MAS extends assessment period for digital-only bank applicants

SINGAPORE – Digital bank hopefuls will have to wait longer to know whether their application has been approved.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Thursday (April 9) that it will be extending the assessment period for the awarding of the digital bank licences.

Successful applicants will be informed in the second half of the year instead of in June as originally intended, the regulator added.

MAS said extending the assessment period for the awarding of the licences will allow applicants to focus on managing the immediate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their businesses.

It will also enable MAS to focus on ensuring monetary and financial stability, and that financial institutions remain resilient, it added.

The MAS said in June last year that it will issue up to five new digital bank licences to players who may not have an established record in banking.

It received 21 applications for the three digital wholesale bank licenses and two digital full bank licenses.

Digital full banks will be allowed to take retail deposits while digital wholesale banks will focus on serving small and medium-sized enterprises and other non-retail segments.

Chief strategy officer Lee Limeng of Razer, which has applied for a digital full bank licence through a consortium, said the firm remains focused on the opportunity.

The firm is also assessing similar opportunities in other regions, added Mr Lee, who is also Razer Fintech chief executive.

Mr Lee pointed out that Covid-19 and the global economic downturn have emphasised the importance and need for digital innovation, especially in the financial services sector to support e-commerce related businesses.

Funding Societies co-founder and group chief executive Kelvin Teo said the company’s commitment towards digital banking has not changed. The firm is applying for a digital wholesale bank licence through a consortium.

Mr Teo said: “Besides responding to application questions from MAS, we’ve been continuously building capabilities and partnerships in preparation for the licence as SME financing, among various aspects of our digital bank plan, is our bread and butter.”

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