Green Link launches as Singapore's first digital bank

The consortium had received a digital wholesale bank licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore in December 2020. PHOTO: GLDB

SINGAPORE - The first digital bank to operate in Singapore opened its virtual doors for business on Friday (June 3).

Green Link Digital Bank (GLDB), which is owned by Chinese developer and state-owned enterprise Greenland Holdings and supply chain financing platform Linklogis Hong Kong, won approval to open here back in late 2020.

As a digital wholesale bank, GLDB can serve the micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises and non-retail clients.

The bank is allowed to extend both secured and unsecured loans to businesses.

GLDB, registered in Singapore in May 2021, told The Straits Times that on the commercial banking side, it offers cash and payments, as well as loans and trade financing.

Its supply chain financing solutions, targeting sectors such as sustainable building materials, photovoltaic technology and smart home systems, allow businesses to extend credit terms to buyers, while allowing suppliers to be paid early.

“Management of risks around supply chain disruption is the other key benefit of supply chain financing,” GLDB said. 

The digital bank told ST that “customers will have access to the bank online via the GLDB website” and that “digital tokens will be available through our app”. More features will be added in stages, it said. 

A check on the Apple app store on Friday found that the app was not yet available. 

The digital bank, whose office is at Mapletree Business City, said it now has about 75 staff, all of whom are based in Singapore.

GLDB chairman Geng Jing said: “We... hope to play a significant role in cultivating an open digital finance ecosystem in Singapore.”

Vice-chairman Song Qun added: “We will continue to explore the application of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cloud computing, and big data in supply chain finance.”

He also noted that the bank would include “environmental, social and governance factors into our product development and growth strategies”.

The road to Friday’s landmark opening began in December 2020, when a consortium comprising Greenland Financial, Tencent-backed Linklogis Hong Kong and Beijing Co-operative Equity Investment Fund Management won one of two digital wholesale bank licences from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

ST was told on Friday that the Beijing Co-operative Equity Investment Fund Management is no longer a shareholder.

Greenland Financial is an arm of Shanghai-listed Greenland Holdings, which is considered among the most resilient property developers in China.

But last week, the group surprised investors by seeking to delay repayment on a dollar bond, a move that spurred a broader sell-off among higher-rated companies like Country Garden Holdings.

Covid-19 lockdowns in Shanghai and elsewhere in the mainland have added to pressure on home sales, adding woe to a sector that is facing a cash crunch sparked by a crackdown on excessive leverage.

Ant Group, which snagged the other wholesale licence from the MAS, has gone on a hiring spree in Singapore, setting up expectations that its digital bank is likely to open later this year.

Last month, Grab said its digital bank – called GXS Bank – is undergoing an internal pilot, with the public launch set for later this year.

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