Consortium Of Singapore Businesses Apply For Digital Banking License

Another group of Singaporean businesses, Beyond Consortium, has thrown its hat in the ring to apply for the country’s digital bank licenses.

Beyond Consortium, which is led by V3 Group and EZ-Link and includes Far East Organisation, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, Heliconia Capital and the Singapore Business Federation, will be competing with a handful of other businesses and organizations in the country to capitalize on the need for digital banking, according to published reports Sunday (Jan. 5).

Beyond Consortium says its members are representative of the small and mid-sized enterprises in Singapore, which encompass 70 percent of the Singaporean workforce. The businesses in Beyond Consortium represent a variety of business types including real estate, construction, mass transport, insurance and retail.

Gan Chee Yen, chairman-designate of the consortium, told Deal Street Asia the consortium “represents the combined strengths of some of Singapore’s most established companies” and would work to cater to the needs of digital natives, the gig economy, the silver generation and SMBs operating in different industries.

He said they also want to work on entering industries like artificial intelligence, blockchain and machine learning, to try and understand and leverage with their customers better.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore will award five licenses for digital banking, which it plans to announce its decisions on in mid-2020.

Several contenders have stepped forward already and joined the fray. At the end of 2019, Grab and Singtel, two digital app companies in Singapore, joined together to compete for the license.

Among the other competitors is gaming company Razer, which along with numerous Singapore startups and billionaires including local supermarket operator Sheng Siong Holdings and early-stage tech venture capital firm Insignia Ventures Partners, formed Razer Youth Bank.

There’s also Ant Financial which also put in a bid for a license. Ant has a capital commitment of $100 million.

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, senior minister and chairman of MAS, said they wanted to welcome companies and groups with innovative ideas, even if they didn’t have prior banking experience.

Singapore’s move toward digital banking reflects a shake-up in an industry that, for decades, has been controlled by large traditional banks.

Hong Kong also made a decision in early 2019 to allow companies to apply to start digital banks.