The likes of Ant Financial, ByteDance and Xiaomi are looking to snag one of the licences issued by Singapore’s central bank this year. Analysts say the new players’ entrance will help innovate the Singaporean banking industry. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is issuing as many as five digital banking licences by June. Technology giants from the mainland are hoping their digital prowess will make them key players in the city state’s plans to reinvent its digital banking space. Up to two licences will be full-bank permits that allow retail banking, and three will be wholesale ones, opening up to foreign banks an industry largely dominated by traditional domestic players such as DBS Bank and United Overseas Bank. The embrace of digital banking reflects Singapore’s most extensive liberalisation of its banking sector since 1999, when it rolled out a five-year plan to spur innovation and increase competition, and would see online-only nonbank players offer services for the first time. According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), 14 applications have been made for the wholesale licences, while there are seven competing bids for the full-bank licences. Full-bank licences allow deposits to be taken from retail customers, while wholesale licences are for those looking to cater to small- and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and other non-retail segments.


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