Enigma Group consortium eyeing digital full bank licence

Local firm Enigma Group is part of a consortium applying for a digital full bank licence, it said yesterday.

Its consortium partners are Singapore-based cyber security firm Qrypt Technologies, app developer 2359 Media and Blockchain Worx.

It also includes British-based Enigma Global Holdings, which recently entered a deal to acquire an existing challenger bank, the statement said, without identifying the bank.

The consortium's proposed digital bank aims to focus on under-banked small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the fast-evolving digital workforce.

Designated chairman Samuel Heng said the group will tap experience from its financial services operations and footprint in Europe.

"(This) will help us leverage leading-edge technology and best practices from similar mature markets to address digital banking needs back home in Singapore too," added Mr Heng, a Singaporean who is also a director at Enigma Global.

Enigma Group brings the number of applicants that have announced bids for a digital full bank licence to five. The others are Grab-Singtel, a Razer-led consortium, Shopee parent Sea and the Beyond consortium. Two other bidders are unknown.

There are two full digital bank licences on offer. These will allow successful applicants to collect deposits from retail customers. Applicants need to be Singaporean-controlled and have an eventual capital requirement of $1.5 billion.

Another 14 groups of mostly Chinese players, such as Mr Jack Ma's Ant Financial, TikTok owner ByteDance and Xiaomi Finance, are gunning for three digital wholesale bank licences to serve SMEs and other non-retail segments.

Such a bank requires a capital of $100 million with foreign entities allowed to take a majority stake.

It was reported yesterday that the team behind Singapore-based venture capital firm Life.Sreda has applied for a wholesale licence.

Known as Arival, the group is targeting tech start-ups, including blockchain or crypto-related businesses.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2020, with the headline 'Enigma Group consortium eyeing digital full bank licence'. Print Edition | Subscribe