Will China's dragons eat the American unicorns?

In the race to secure digibank licences in Singapore, US fintechs are conspicuously absent compared with their Chinese counterparts

Billionaire Jack Ma's Ant Group has applied for a digital bank licence in Singapore. The writer says that Chinese firms could end up dominating the digital banking infrastructure in Singapore, gain experience and legitimacy from their presence here a
Billionaire Jack Ma's Ant Group has applied for a digital bank licence in Singapore. The writer says that Chinese firms could end up dominating the digital banking infrastructure in Singapore, gain experience and legitimacy from their presence here and extend their footholds in other Asia-Pacific countries.PHOTO: REUTERS

Today, in Singapore, we are witnessing first-hand a major change in the financial system for South-east Asia as China's corporate dragons move quickly to rebuild the region's financial framework, without any significant participation from America's fintech unicorns.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore will make a crucial decision later this year over five digibank licences, from which the implications for the United States are enormous and potentially irrevocable.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2020, with the headline 'Will China's dragons eat the American unicorns?'. Print Edition | Subscribe