MAS recently granted four licenses for establishing new digital banks in Singapore, out of the 14 applications it received. The Digital Full Bank (DFB) licenses were given to a consortium comprising Grab Holding Inc. and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. and an entity wholly owned by Sea Ltd. The Digital Wholesale Bank licenses were given to an entity wholly owned by Ant Group Co. Ltd. and a consortium comprising Greenland Financial Holdings Group Co. Ltd, Linklogis Hong Kong Ltd, and Beijing Co-operative Equity Investment Fund Management Co. Ltd. MAS expects the new digital banks to commence operations from early 2022.
MAS had earlier announced that it would award banking licenses for up to two Digital Full Banks and up to three Digital Wholesale Banks. Among other criteria, MAS has considered the eligible applicants’ reviews of the business plans and assumptions underpinning their financial projections arising from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. To select the successful applicants, MAS has set stringent expectations across the assessment criteria. The two selected Digital Full Banks applicants were clearly stronger than the other eligible Digital Full Banks applicants. As for the Digital Wholesale Banks, the two selected applicants met MAS’ expectations and were assessed to be demonstrably stronger across the criteria notwithstanding the general high quality of the eligible applicants. As the Digital Wholesale Banks have been introduced as a pilot, MAS will review whether to grant more of such licenses in the future.
The assessment was done on a holistic basis, taking into account all relevant considerations for each criterion. Overall, the applications were assessed on the following criteria:
- Value proposition of business model, incorporating innovative use of technology to serve customer needs and reach under-served segments
- Ability to manage a prudent and sustainable digital banking business
- Growth prospects and other contributions to the financial center in Singapore
Keywords: Asia Pacific, Singapore, Banking, Digital Banks, Bank Licenses, Fintech, Regtech, MAS
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