(Nov 19): Billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial Services Group said it may apply for a virtual banking licence in Singapore, a move that would add a heavyweight contender to the race.

“We are actively looking into this opportunity,“ Hangzhou, China-based Ant Financial said in an emailed response to questions from Bloomberg News.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore is offering as many as five digital banking permits to non-banks in a bid to open up the industry to new competitors. A successful entry by Ant Financial would pit China’s largest online financial company against traditional incumbents DBS Group Holdings and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp in the growing market for digital banking in Southeast Asia.

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