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

The Edge Singapore
The Edge Singapore1/5/2020 05:46 PM GMT+08  • 3 min read
Ron Sim, Far East, SBF and Temasek unit Heliconia set sights on SME market with digital bank license bid
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SINGAPORE (Jan 5): A consortium of big local names including a Temasek-linked entity Heliconia, developer giant Far East Organization and Ron Sim-chaired V3 Group has announced that a bid for one of the digital full bank licence that’s up for grabs by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

This consortium claims to adopt a “fair and equitable” approach to providing banking and financial services for the SMEs.

Besides these two companies, other consortium members include the Singapore Business Federation, EZ-Link, which issues the contactless public transport fare cards; Japanese insurer Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co and fund manager Heliconia Capital Management, a Temasek Holdings subsidiary.

“Our proposal represents the combined strengths of some of Singapore’s most established companies and their reach to SMEs and their workforce,” says Gan Chee Yen, chairman-designate of the consortium, which calls itself BEYOND.

Gan was previously CEO of Fullerton Financial Holdings, another Temasek fund management unit, and co-chief investment officer at Temasek itself.

This consortium claims to have a “massive reach” to the local SME community. BEYOND will take an industry-specific approach, and look to redefine the role of banking when it comes to serving the needs of its customers.

“Though SMEs play a significant role in the economy, some SMEs especially smaller enterprises and start-ups tend to face more difficulty managing their financing and securing funding from traditional banks,” says Ho Meng Kit, CEO of the SBF, which has a membership base of 27,000.

“Pure digital banking is the future, and we aim to embrace it together with the rest of Singapore’s promising fintech community,” says Ron Sim, founder and executive chairman of the V3 Group, which besides the Osim-led group of lifestyle brands, has recently ventured into the fintech space as well.

“We also cannot be solely focused on catering to the digital natives. The vast majority of people in Singapore are part of the SME ecosystem, and we want to help them and their families. The benefits of the digital bank must be inclusive, and our approach has to be fair and equitable in encouraging everyone to progress together,” says Sim.

Heliconia isn’t the only Temasek entity that is bidding for a digital bank licence. A separate consortium formed by ride-hailing app Grab and telco Singtel is bidding too. Temasek owns stakes in both these entities.

MAS will announce the number of bidders for the licence on Jan 7 and the winners in the middle of the year.

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