New chapter in banking begins as applications open for digital banks

September 5, 2019

Following Hong Kong earlier this year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) from Singapore will become the latest Asian regulator issuing five digital banking licenses. The licenses will allow bank and non-bank players to conduct banking businesses in Singapore. In a new move to liberalise Singapore’s banking industry, the five licenses will count with two full bank licenses – allowing to take deposits from and provide services to retail and non-retail customer segments – and three digital wholesale bank licenses – providing the former banking services to SMEs and other non-retail customer segments. Although the MAS has not yet disclosed which entities will be its successful applicants, the ride-hailing firm Grab is “confident” of meeting the digital banking license requirements, including a five-year financial projection showing a path towards profitability. This requirement of sustainability comes along that of applicants having to present a clear value proposition to meet under-served segments by incorporating the innovative use of technology, ensuring that Singapore’s banking sector continues to be resilient, competitive, and vibrant.


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