Google, Alibaba, Ant Group Seek Payment Licenses In Singapore

Singapore Payments

Is Singapore poised to become Asia’s Silicon Valley? It might, if Sopnendu Mohanty, the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) chief FinTech officer, has anything to say about it.

Speaking to Bloomberg News on Friday (June 4), Mohanty noted that FinTech investments in Singapore have ballooned in the last seven years, from $20 million in 2014 to a record $1.1 billion last year. That number is expected to rise even further this year.

“The MAS’ aspirations are central to Singapore’s aim to fortify its position as a global financial center, where incumbent banks and contesting tech firms compete to provide services to consumers and corporates, though it is also a gatekeeper of standards as companies roll out their businesses,” the report noted.

The MAS is also processing applications from companies that want licenses to operate payment services and cryptocurrency exchanges in Singapore.

According to Bloomberg, these companies had been operating under a grace period that began when the MAS instituted the Payment Services Act that went into effect last January. So far, more than 300 companies have applied, with the MAS looking for ways to speed up the process and find a balance between promoting entrepreneurship and adhering to regulations.

Some recognizable names have sought licenses from the MAS, including Alphabet Inc./Google, Alibaba Group Holdings and Ant Group.

“Giving licenses to somebody is a premium — it is not something to be taken lightly,” Mohanty said. He did not disclose when the first license would be issued. “We are ensuring that whoever gets a MAS license will be credible.”

Last year, the MAS gave non-bank lenders in Singapore access to the country’s digital payments platforms PayNow and FAST, which let people move money between banks and digital wallets. The access, which went into effect this year, was through a new API developed by the two payment platforms.