AMTD, Xiaomi, Funding Societies, SP Group join Singapore digibank Race

Hong Kong-based investment banking firm AMTD Group, Xiaomi consumer finance arm Xiaomi Finance, Singapore government-owned SP Group, and crowdfunding startup Funding Societies officially announced they have submitted an application for a digital wholesale banking license in Singapore.

The consortium, led by AMTD, focuses its bid on small and medium-sized enterprises in all stages of growth in Southeast Asia and Greater China, particularly the Greater Bay Area, according to a statement.

The digital bank will combine the strengths and networks of the parties involved to connect SMEs to the capital markets, facilitate their development, and improve their efficiency through internet-of-things platforms and smart devices.

“Our ultimate goal is to establish Singapore’s most innovative platform bank through an ecosystem of strategic partners to cater to the entire spectrum of funding and business development needs of SMEs and entrepreneurs,” said AMTD Group chairman and CEO Calvin Choi.

The consortium seeks to connect SMEs and entrepreneurs to the Singapore capital markets and beyond, and help them extend their presence in other parts of Asia, including the Greater Bay Area, according to the statement.

It joins a growing roster of Singapore digital banking hopefuls, which includes big names such as Jack Ma’s Ant Financial, ride-hailing giant Grab, Razer Fintech, and lifestyle and fintech enterprise V3 Group. Chinese internet giant Bytedance, the owner of short-video app TikTok, is also reportedly looking to enter the race.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced in July 2019 that it will issue up to five new digital bank licenses, consisting of up to two digital full bank licenses and three digital wholesale bank licenses.

Following the application deadline last week, the agency announced today that it has received a total of 21 applications: seven for a digital full bank license and 14 for digital wholesale bank licenses.

It plans to announce the successful applicants in June 2020. Those awarded the licenses are expected to commence business by mid-2021, according to MAS.

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