MICHELLE ZHU

JUL 01, 2021

Singtel: Z74 +0.44% has applied for a digital bank licence in Malaysia through its joint venture with Grab, together with a consortium of other investors, announced Singapore’s largest telco on Thursday.

Citing guidance provided by Bank Negara Malaysia, Singtel said the country’s central bank will issue up to five digital bank licences by Q1 of 2022.

In December 2020, the Grab-Singtel consortium and consumer Internet company Sea bagged two of Singapore’s digital full-bank licences up for grabs.

In the race which saw a total of four licences awarded, two digital wholesale bank licences were clinched by China’s Ant Group, and a consortium comprising China’s Greenland Financial Holdings, Linklogis Hong Kong and Beijing Co-operative Equity Investment Fund Management.

A total of four digital banks are expected to emerge onto Singapore’s banking scene from early 2022.

Meanwhile, IFAST: AIY +1.6% on Wednesday said it is leading a consortium to apply for a digital bank licence in Malaysia.

If the application is successful, iFast Corp will own a 40 per cent stake in the digital bank. The beneficial equity ownership of the consortium will be approximately 57 per cent Malaysian, the wealth management fintech platform said.

iFast Corp’s Malaysian partners in the consortium are credit-co-operative Koperasi Angkatan Tentera Malaysia Berhad, private investment holding company THZ Alliance and the founder and major shareholder of grocery chain 99 Speed Mart, Lee Thiam Wah.

Yillion Fintech, which provides the core digital banking technology and capabilities for Yillion Bank, is the international partner in the consortium. Yillion Bank is one of four digital banks in China.

iFast failed to secure a digital wholesale bank (DWB) licence in Singapore from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). In the Singapore bid, iFast had teamed up as well with Yillion Group, and another Chinese partner, Hande Group. 

MAS awarded full digital banking licences to Internet firm Sea and the Grab-Singtel consortium, as well as DWB licences to China’s Ant Group and a consortium led by Greenland Financial.

MAS has said that it will review whether to grant more of DWB licences in the future.

Over in Malaysia, iFast Bank intends to focus on local opportunities in the unserved and underserved market segments such as the bottom 40 per cent of the population in the country, which it feels has been left behind in the country’s progress.

It intends to offer this segment solutions with “immediate benefits and results”, such as free life insurance, interest-free loans for daily necessities, and micro investments and insurance.

As at 9.57am on Thursday Singtel was up S$0.02 or 0.9 per cent at S$2.31, after the announcement was made.

Shares of iFast were trading S$0.13 or 1.6 per cent higher at S$8.28.