On Friday, June 28, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Chairman Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced that the government is set to issue up to five digital banking licenses to provide an opportunity for non-bank finance industry players to enter the banking scene, which is currently dominated by traditional banking institutions.
Straits Times reported that digital-only banks are defined as institutions that provide all of its banking facilities online, eliminating the need for a physical branch.
As a response to the announcement, several tech companies have expressed their interest in applying for the digital banking license, with some companies openly announcing their application.
The following is a list of those companies, which will be updated accordingly:
Even before MAS formally announced the digital banking license issuance, as it was studying its potential, Southeast Asian ride-hailing giant Grab has been reported by Reuters to be eyeing the digital banking license.
Citing four people with knowledge of the process, the report also stated that Grab is even “close to hiring a consultancy to advise it on its banking potential and is gearing up to apply for a digital-only bank license in Singapore if the banking regulator decides to open up the sector.”
The company has declined to comment on the matter.
Gaming hardware manufacturer Razer has issued a statement regarding the digital banking license issuance.
Razer Chief Strategy Officer Limeng Lee applauded the move as “forward-looking.”
“This announcement is timely as Razer has been growing our fintech business rapidly in the Southeast Asia region. We already process billions of dollars in digital payments and our Razer Pay e-wallet is already one of the largest in Malaysia with the Singapore app coming soon. Further, we just announced a partnership with VISA to introduce a pre-paid Visa solution through the Razer Pay app, which will allow unbanked populations in the region to access Visa’s 54 million merchant locations worldwide,” he wrote in a statement.
“Our Singapore headquarters has the largest headcount of our 18 global offices. We will definitely consider applying for the digital bank license and are keen to help spur innovation in Singapore’s financial sector,” he closed.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) financing platform Validus Capital is also applying for the digital banking license.
The company announced that as part of the application, it is also looking to “collaborate with strategic partners who share the same synergy in creating strong governance, and complements Validus’ data and technology strengths in SME financing.”
With the licence, Validus Capital intends to expand its product offering beyond lending, including but not limited to deposits, payments, remittances and forex (FX).
“Validus believes in driving digital innovation in Singapore and welcomes the opening up of Singapore’s banking system through these digital banking licences. It is a natural progression for us to apply for a digital banking licence, that will enable us to expand on our suite of services to help SMEs in Singapore grow,” Validus Capital Co-Founder and CEO Ajit Raikar said in a statement.
“Since 2015, Validus has been working with local banks and corporates to address the unmet needs of fast-growing SMEs, and with our team of veterans in SME banking, technology and data science, we are confident that we can succeed in our application and help enhance the business and financing ecosystem here,” he closed.
According to a Bloomberg report, cross-border payments startup InstaReM has also announced that it will apply for the digital banking license.
The startup is also said to be in the middle of a discussion with potential lending business partners to create a joint venture.
“InstaReM’s limited ability is in lending, where it’s a key aspect to be able to have the license. We will be looking to partner to create the lending experience in the same technology stack,” said InstaReM CEO Prajit Nanu.