Digital Banking

ADVANCE.AI Consortium Seeks Singaporean Digital Banking License

Yet another business consortium vies for a lucrative, wholesale digital banking license, according to reports. Singapore’s FinTech firm ADVANCE.AI, Hong Kong’s financial services company Sheng Ye Capital and Singapore’s firm Phillip Capital are the most recent in a series of contenders for critical business permits in Singapore. Other companies include Razer, Grab Holdings and Ant Financial.

The license bid is “an opportunity for us to impact an underserved segment,” said Mi Li, ADVANCE.AI’s chief marketing officer. “Singapore [small businesses (SMBs)] often find it impossible to get the credit they need to grow their business.”

The Monetary Authority of Singapore determined last year that it would issue up to five virtual banking licenses to enhance competition and innovation. Winners will be announced in mid-2020. Research companies predict for the digital lending market in Southeast Asia to more than quadruple to $110 billion in the next five years.

There are now five confirmed bids — such as from Singapore FinTech firm iFast — for the three wholesale banking licenses, which allow owners to serve [SMBs] and other corporate clients, and there are three confirmed bids for the two full banking licenses. Their holders can take deposits from retail customers, but must have $1.5 billion in capital on hand, and be governed by Singapore leadership.

iFast taps “the strengths and experiences of each consortium member to more better address some of the inefficiencies, and assist the underserved market segments in Singapore’s banking industry,” said CEO Lim Chung Chun.

Grab, an online business and one of Southeast Asia’s largest operators in the digital space, is partnering with Singtel for the chance at a full banking license. Gaming company Razer has teamed up with regional Singaporean entrepreneurs and other Asian billionaires.

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