SINGAPORE (Apr 9): The keenly fought for digital banking licenses will only be given by end of the year instead of the middle of the year, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

“The global escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic since then has prompted the implementation of enhanced safe distancing measures in Singapore, and many companies are allowing staff to work from home to the extent possible,” said MAS.

By extending the assessment period, the applicants can focus on managing their existing businesses amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

“It will also enable MAS to focus resources on ensuring monetary and financial stability, and ensuring that financial institutions remain resilient, and able to perform their role in supporting businesses and individuals through this challenging time,” said MAS.

At the end of last year, a total of 21 bids have been made for the two full digital banking licenses, and three wholesale digital banking licenses.

Many of the bidders are top names in other non-banking sectors, such as gaming company Sea, “super app” Grab, Singtel. 

Just yesterday, another bidder, AMTD International, a Hong Kong-based financial services firm, started its first day as the first dual-class share company quoted on the SGX.