FinTech banks apply for operational licenses in Singapore

March 9, 2020

The Monetary Authority of Singapore will be issuing operational licenses to three new wholesale neobanks in June in order to provide better services to underbanked small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Indeed, it has been confirmed in mid-2019 that 5 new digital banking license applications will be accepted and that the “winners” would be announced in June. 


It has recently been announced that more than 20 applications and more than 5 bids have been submitted for launching full-service banks. If they meet the requirements and are selected by the regulatory authorities, two of them will be selected to move forward by mid-2020. Licensees need to have S$1.5 billion (appr. $1.08 billion) in paid-up capital. They must establish head offices in Singapore and have to be managed by a local business interest. 


The MAS will also issue licenses for new virtual wholesale banks. There are reportedly around nine firms and consortia that are interested in this type of license. These developments indicate that Fintech disruption is moving past retail, and towards wholesale banking services.


Established in 2017, Singapore-based company Arival is also applying. Its stated goal is to “bring a new level of banking service” to SMEs. Jeremy Berger, co-founder and COO at Arival, told Euromoney: “Our initial customer focus is tech startups. That is the world where we most resonate. Within two years, we will be a leading financial provider for these firms, their go-to digital bank.”


Singapore is the ideal place to base Arival’s global business operations, Berger noted. He believes the city-state’s progressive outlook and willingness to work with outsiders will help it become a major Fintech hub. Berger noted: “It’s a startup paradise, with a lot of foreign-run Fintechs, a supportive ecosystem and real Fintech talent. It’s full


of ambitious digital firms looking for innovative digital financial services.” 


Berger defined Arival’s aims to be “a real borderless Fintech bank for rejected businesses and entrepreneurs.”


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