Grab and Singtel have jointly applied for a digital bank licence in Singapore

Grab will hold a 60 per cent stake in the consortium, while Singtel will hold the remaining 40 per cent.
The Straits Times

Grab and Singtel have joined hands in an effort to take on Singapore’s rapidly evolving fintech industry.

The companies said in a joint press release on Monday (Dec 30) that they plan to jointly apply for a digital full banking licence with Singapore’s monetary authorities.

Grab, which began as a ride-hailing firm before expanding into fintech, will have a 60 per cent stake in the consortium, while telco Singtel will hold the remaining 40 per cent.

The partnership is aimed at addressing the “unmet and underserved needs” of digital-first consumers and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the two companies said.

They added that the consortium will be “well-positioned to offer relevant products and services and become a trusted partner for consumers and enterprises”.

Both companies currently operate e-wallets in Singapore and the region, including Dash and GrabPay among others.

Reuben Lai, Grab Financial Group’s senior managing director, said in the statement that it was a “natural next step” for the firm to move into the digital banking space, as it has launched and scaled financial services such as payments, lending, and insurance, over the past two years.

Arthur Lang, chief executive officer of Singtel’s International Group, added that by partnering with Grab, the two companies will have a “formidable set of assets and significant synergies to make banking more accessible and intuitive, and deliver much-needed product simplicity, speed, and affordability”.

Currently, Singtel is the Republic’s largest telco with a customer base of more than 700 million across the region, including in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, The Business Times (BT) reported.

Meanwhile, Grab has a user base of 166 million across the region, and operates dominant e-wallets in Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam, BT added.

According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), a digital full bank licence will enable the two companies to lend money to companies and serve retail customers, including taking deposits.

In June, the authority announced that it will be issuing up to five digital bank licences in 2020 – two digital full bank licences that enable retail banking and three for wholesale banking.

MAS will stop accepting applications on Tuesday (Dec 31).

According to The Straits Times (ST), other organisations that have expressed interest in applying for the licence include Standard Chartered Bank, NTUC Enterprise, the V3 Group and Razer.

Singtel and Grab will know if their application has been approved by mid-2020.

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