Ant Financial, Razer join race for digital bank licences

Gaming company Razer said that its fintech arm will build Razer Youth Bank if it receives approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Gaming company Razer said that its fintech arm will build Razer Youth Bank if it receives approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.PHOTO: BUSINESS TIMES

Crowd-investing site Funding Societies also makes bid

The race to become one of Singapore's first digital banks is hotting up as more companies confirmed that they have submitted their applications to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Crowd-investing site Funding Societies, gaming company Razer and Ant Financial are the latest to state their ambition to become a virtual bank in Singapore, confirming yesterday that they had submitted their applications.

Technology company Grab and telco Singtel said on Monday that they are submitting a bid together for a digital full bank licence.

Another contender for a digital full bank licence is Razer, which is applying through a consortium that includes Sheng Siong Holdings.

Sheng Siong Holdings is the private vehicle of the three founders behind the supermarket chain.

Having a digital full bank licence will allow licensees to take deposits from retail customers as well as extend loans.

Gaming company Razer said yesterday that its fintech arm will build Razer Youth Bank if it receives approval from MAS.

Razer's other partners in the consortium are technology company LinkSure Global, automotive marketplace Carro, insurance services firm FWD and Insignia Ventures Partners.

Razer, which will own 60 per cent of the consortium, said its digital bank will be headquartered in Singapore, and the target audience will be millennials and youth.

The remaining 40 per cent will be held by its partners, but Razer did not elaborate on the breakdown.

The proposed digital bank will also target budding entrepre-neurs, as well as small and micro enterprises that find it hard to access capital.

Razer Fintech chief executive Lee Li Meng said that Razer has spent the past year appointing a board of advisers and forming partnerships in preparation for the application to be a digital full bank.

  • Confirmed applicants

  • For digital full bank licences:

    GRAB-SINGTEL CONSORTIUM

    Technology company Grab is popular for its ride-hailing and delivery services in Singapore. Singtel is the Republic's largest telco. Grab has a 60 per cent share in the consortium while Singtel holds the rest.

    Both have e-wallet services - Grab has GrabPay, while Singtel has Dash.

    RAZER CONSORTIUM, INCLUDING SHENG SIONG HOLDINGS

    Razer makes video-gaming accessories such as mice and headsets. It also has an e-wallet in Malaysia called Razer Pay. It will hold a 60 per cent stake in the consortium.

    Other members in the consortium are Sheng Siong Holdings, technology company LinkSure Global, automotive marketplace Carro, insurance services firm FWD and Insignia Ventures Partners. They will hold the remaining 40 per cent.

    For digital wholesale bank licences:

    ANT FINANCIAL

    Ant Financial is China's largest online financial company. Ant's payments app Alipay and its local e-wallet partners had about 900 million annual active users in China and 1.2 billion globally as of June, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

    FUNDING SOCIETIES

    Peer-to-peer crowd-investing platform Funding Societies is an online marketplace where individuals or groups of investors can choose what projects to back.

    Aw Cheng Wei

 
 

Mr Lee, who is also Razer's chief strategy officer, said: "Addressing the unmet financial needs of the large, yet underserved, segment of the population through an innovative digital-first banking platform is a natural extension of our payments business."

Razer said it will work with a host of companies, including travel company SkyScanner and payments company Visa, to develop its digital bank products. The gaming company already has an e-wallet called Razer Pay in Malaysia.

Applicants for the wholesale bank licence include Ant Financial and Funding Societies.

An Ant Financial spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday: "We look forward to contributing to the development of the digital banking landscape in Singapore."

Ant Financial is China's largest online financial company.

Ant's payments app Alipay and its local e-wallet partners had about 900 million annual active users in China and 1.2 billion globally as of June, according to Bloom-berg Intelligence.

A Funding Societies spokesman said yesterday that the crowd-investing platform has also applied for a digital wholesale bank licence.

Other companies that have indicated interest in applying for a digital bank licence but had yet to announce their application as of yesterday include V3 Group and NTUC Enterprise.

The Business Times had reported on Monday that a separate consortium comprising OCBC Bank, Keppel Corporation and Validus Capital fell through.

The authority said in June last year that it will issue up to five licences for both digital full and wholesale banks to players which may not have an established record in banking.

Applications closed on Tuesday, and the companies will know by mid-2020 if their application has been approved.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2020, with the headline 'Ant Financial, Razer join race for digital bank licences'. Print Edition | Subscribe