21 applicants, four winners. If you followed the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) digital banking licence race back in late-2020, you’d remember the mood. There were strong proposals, competition, and consortiums rushing to form to clinch that coveted licence. Two kinds of licences were up for grabs—the digital full bank (DFB) licence and the digital wholesale bank (DWB) licence. While the Grab-Singtel consortium (GXS) and Sea Limited claimed the former, Ant Group and a consortium comprising Greenland Financial Holdings Group, Linklogis Hong Kong and Beijing Co-operative Equity Investment Fund Management got the latter.
The rush to launch
No digital banks yet in Singapore. Where are Sea, Grab stuck?
MAS expects Singapore’s digital banks to launch this year. But with just 2% unbanked and hiring being a tough task, the once-jubilant digital bank licensees are running against the clock
Digital banks face restrictions by the Monetary Authority of Singapore on what they can do, for example, an aggregate deposit cap in the initial years of operations
Besides, almost 99% of Singaporeans plan to keep their current primary bank accounts even after opening a digital bank account
Digital banks need to offer elevated versions of what customers look for from typical banks and a wider range of services
The Standard Chartered-NTUC Enterprise digital bank stands a good chance to lure customers from incumbents