SINGAPORE (Jan 7): A total of 21 groups have submitted bids for Singapore’s digital bank licences as at the close of application on Dec 31, 2019, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced Tuesday.

This comprises 7 applications for the digital full bank (DFB) licences, and 14 applications for the digital wholesale bank (DWB) licences.

The DFB licences allows firms to serve all kinds of customers and require $1.5 billion in capital as well as local control, while the DWB licences have a capital commitment of $100 million and can see foreign firms holding majority stakes.

While MAS did not name the applicants, it said the new digital bank licences have attracted “strong interest from a diverse group of applicants”.

Over the past week, several companies had announced that they have applied for the digital bank licences.

Beyond Consortium, led by one of Asia’s largest massage chair makers V3 Group and stored-value card company EZ-Link, announced just two days ago that it has submitted a bid for a DFB licence.

The consortium is also backed by property developer Far East Organization, the Singapore Business Federation, Japanese insurer Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co and fund manager Heliconia Capital Management, a Temasek Holdings subsidiary.

See: Ron Sim, Far East, SBF and Temasek unit Heliconia set sights on SME market with digital bank license bid

Earlier, Grab, one of Southeast Asia’s largest operators of online businesses from finance to car-hailing, had revealed it is partnering with Singapore Telecommunications to apply for a DFB licence.

See: Grab and Singtel to jointly apply for digital full bank licence as application deadline nears

Meanwhile, a consortium led by the fintech arm of gaming hardware manufacturer Razer has also submitted its application for a DFB licence.

Razer Fintech’s partners include insurance business FWD, privately-owned Internet company LinkSure Global, tech venture fund Insignia Ventures Partners, vehicle wholesale marketplace Carro, and Sheng Siong Holdings – the private vehicle of the Lim brothers behind supermarket chain operator Sheng Siong Group.

See: Razer Fintech leads consortium including Sheng Siong's Lim brothers, FWD in bid for digital full bank licence

Other notable names to have put in a bid include wealth management platform iFAST Corporation, which is leading a consortium comprising China’s Yillion Group and Hande Group to bid for a DWB licence.

Yillion operates one of four digital banks in China and counts Hong Kong-listed Internet firm Meituan Dianping as a shareholder, while Hande is a Chinese fintech company founded by Cao Tong, the former president of Webank, China’s first digital bank that’s also backed by Tencent Holdings

See: iFast confirms bid for digital bank license; AUA crosses $10 billion in 2019

Billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial has also joined the race, and submitted an application for a DWB licence.

MAS on Tuesday noted that the majority of applicants are consortiums, with entities seeking to combine their individual strengths to enhance the digital bank’s value proposition.

MAS said it will evaluate all eligible applications based on their value propositions, and announce the successful applicants in June 2020.

Some of the value propositions MAS will be looking at include the innovative use of technology to serve customer needs, their ability to manage a prudent and sustainable digital banking business, and their contributions to Singapore’s financial centre.

Successful applicants are expected to commence business by mid-2021.