Singaporean regulator receives 21 applications for digital bank licenses

Maria Nikolova

The applicants include e-commerce firms, technology and telecommunications companies, fintech firms and financial institutions.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has earlier today provided an update regarding the digital bank licensing process. The regulator says that it has received 21 applications for digital bank licences as at the close of application on December 31, 2019.

This comprises 7 applications for the digital full bank (DFB) licences, and 14 applications for the digital wholesale bank (DWB) licences.

MAS explains that the new digital bank licences have attracted strong interest from a diverse group of applicants, including e-commerce firms, technology and telecommunications companies, fintech firms (such as crowd-funding platforms and payment services providers) and financial institutions. The majority of applicants are consortiums, with entities seeking to combine their individual strengths to enhance the digital bank’s value proposition.

The regulator is set to announce the successful applicants in June 2020. Successful applicants are expected to commence business by mid-2021.

The new digital bank licences, which will be extended to non-bank players, aim to ensure that Singapore’s banking sector continues to be resilient and competitive. Digital full banks will be allowed to take deposits from and provide a wide range of financial services to retail and non-retail customer segments, while digital wholesale banks will be permitted to serve SMEs and other non-retail segments. These new digital banks are in addition to any digital banks that Singapore banking groups may already establish under MAS’ existing regulatory framework.

The application process for digital full bank licences was open to companies headquartered in Singapore and controlled by Singaporeans. Foreign companies are eligible for these full bank licences if they form a joint venture with a Singapore company, and the joint venture meets the headquarter and control requirements. Application for digital wholesale bank licences was open to all companies.

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