By Oliver Smith on Wednesday 8 January 2020
In Asia, the fight for the fintech crown is heating up.
As many as 21 tech and finance groups have filed applications to be awarded one of five digital bank licenses on offer in Singapore.
The news from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is a sign that Singapore is poised to solidify its position as a fintech hub in the region.
Among the bidders are Asian tech giants like Ant Financial, ride-hailing app Grab, gaming firm Razer, and several consortiums.
Interestingly, the vast majority of the bids are to establish wholesale banks, while just seven are aimed at establishing retail banks.
The interest also suggests that Singapore is due a raft of new banking players, similar to what’s happening in Hong Kong where eight online banking licenses were issued last year.
It also presents a challenge to European markets like the UK, which are strongly seen as leading the digital banking revolution due to their headstart in opening up licence applications for new entrants.
“The new digital bank licences have attracted strong interest from a diverse group of applicants,” said the MAS in a statement.
“These include e-commerce firms, technology and telecommunications companies, FinTechs (such as crowd-funding platforms and payment services providers) and financial institutions.”
Altogether some 50 companies are involved in the bidding process according to reports.
The successful applicants will be announced in June, with them expected to start launching their businesses by mid-2021.