(Jan 2): Billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial has applied for a digital banking licence in Singapore, as China’s largest online financial platform steps up efforts to expand outside the mainland.

Ant submitted an application to the Monetary Authority of Singapore for a wholesale licence, which would allow it to serve corporate clients, the company said. “We look forward to contributing to the development of the digital banking landscape in Singapore,” it added in an emailed statement.

The MAS is offering as many as five digital banking permits to non-banks in a bid to open up the financial industry to new competitors. Winning a licence would pit Ant against traditional incumbents such as DBS Group Holdings and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp in the growing market for digital banking in Southeast Asia.

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