Osim tycoon eyes tie-up for digital banking licence

Osim founder Ron Sim is in talks with a Temasek unit and other firms to bid for a digital bank licence.
Osim founder Ron Sim is in talks with a Temasek unit and other firms to bid for a digital bank licence.

Mr Ron Sim, founder of one of Asia's largest massage chair makers, is in talks to partner with a unit of Temasek and other firms to bid for one of Singapore's new virtual banking licences, according to people familiar with the matter.

V3 Group, Mr Sim's Singapore-based firm, is in talks to partner Temasek's Heliconia Capital Management as well as stored-value card company EZ-Link and property firm Far East Organization in the new consortium, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions remain private.

The group plans to seek one of Singapore's new retail digital banking licences, they said.

The city-state has announced plans to award as many as five digital banking licences to non-bank firms as it seeks to shake up its financial services industry and create competition for traditional lenders.

Thresholds are higher for the two retail licences available - they require $1.5 billion in paid-up capital as well as local control.

A representative for V3 said the firm is committed to developing digital financial offerings for the underserved in Singapore and the region, but did not comment on its specific plans.

Heliconia, EZ-Link and Far East Organization declined to comment.

V3, which owns massage chair maker Osim and tea brand TWG, recently created a financial technology unit.

It announced yesterday that it had hired Mr Gan Chee Yen, formerly the chief executive officer of Fullerton Financial Holdings, another Temasek unit, as a senior adviser for the fintech unit.

V3 Group, Mr Ron Sim's Singapore-based firm, is in talks to partner Temasek's Heliconia Capital Management as well as stored-value card company EZ-Link and property firm Far East Organization in the new consortium.

EZ-Link, founded by the Land Transport Authority in 2002, supplies a contactless payment system for the Republic's public transport services.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2019, with the headline 'Osim tycoon eyes tie-up for digital banking licence'. Print Edition | Subscribe