UK-linked Enigma Group applies for Singapore digital full bank licence

The Monetary Authority of Singapore will announce the winners in mid-June. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Enigma Group has applied for a digital full bank licence with the Monetary Authority of Singapore through a consortium, the Singapore-based company said.

The group comprises Singapore-based companies - cybersecurity firm Qrypt Technologies, app developer 2359 Media and Blockchain Worx.

It also includes UK-based Enigma Global Holdings, which had 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 the underbanked small and medium-sized enterprises and the fast-evolving digital workforce.

Its designated chairman, Mr Samuel Heng, said that the group will tap experience from its financial services operations and footprint in Europe.

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

There are two full digital bank licences on offer which 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 Jack Ma's Ant Financial, TikTok owner ByteDance and Xiaomi Finance are gunning for three digital wholesale bank licences to serve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and other non-retail segments. It requires capital of $100 million and allows foreign entities to take a majority stake.

The Business Times reported on Tuesday 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, online businesses and entrepreneurs from co-working spaces which they see as higher-risk clients that traditional banks typically reject.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore will announce the winners in mid-June.

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