The Monetary Authority of Singapore is to review 14 successful applicants for five available digital bank licences, in a concerted effort to inject competition into the banking sector by enabling non-bank players with innovative digital business models to offer banking services.
MAS initially received 21 applications from firms operating across the full spectrum of financial and technology services, and has now whittled the field down to 14 bids that meet the eligibility criteria. Five of the cohort are fighting it out for just two digital full bank (DFB) licences, with the remaining nine vying for three digital wholesale bank (DWB) licences.
DFBs will be allowed to take retail deposits, while DWBs will focus on serving SMEs and other non-retail segments.
Applicants include e-commerce firms, technology and telecommunications companies, fintechs - such as crowd-funding platforms and payment services providers - and financial institutions. The majority of applicants are consortiums, says MAS, with entities seeking to combine their individual strengths to enhance the digital bank’s value proposition.
Publicly known bids include those from wealth management tech supplier iFast, gaming group Razer, ride-hailing firm Grab and teclco SingTel, Chinese giant Ant Financial and Southeast Asian consumer internet company Sea Limited.
In the next stage of assessment, MAS will invite the 14 eligible applicants to present their proposals via virtual meetings.
With the global pandemic upending businesses the world over, MAS has asked all applicants to review the business plans and assumptions underpinning their financial projections, including sources of funding, and provide an independent review of these assumptions.
The central bank says that it does not expect the request for updated business plans and financial projections to affect the timeline for award of the digital bank licences by the end of this year.