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Alibaba’s Ant Financial Eyes Singapore Virtual Bank License

Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial, the Chinese online payment firm formerly known as Alipay said it may apply for a digital banking license in Singapore, a move that would add a heavyweight contender to the race of digital bank in Southeast Asia.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said it will issue up to five new digital bank licenses, which will include non-bank players. Operators will be authorized to provide a range of financial services and take deposits from retail customers with the digital full bank license. Though the Alipay operator did not disclose what type of license it looks to pursue, it will be easier for it to meet the conditions for the wholesale license.

On May 9, Ant Financial’s SME services (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd., was approved by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to operate a virtual bank in Hong Kong. Ant Financial said that it would work closely with all sectors of Hong Kong to jointly promote the development of Fintech and inclusive finance, and bring more equal opportunities to Hong Kong’s consumers and small and micro enterprises.

Besides, Ant Financial has planned to establish a corporate on purpose for applying for financial IPO license. In July, the monetary authority of Singapore (MAS) announced the launch of virtual banking license to allow companies without banking background to carry out banking business.

According to the rule, applicants must submit their applications by December 31, after which MAS expects to announce successful applicants in mid-2020, and successful applicants will start business in mid-2021. That is to say, Ant Financial must take immediate action to submit the application if it is sure to apply for a virtual banking license in Singapore.

MAS is expected to issue five virtual banking licenses including 2 full virtual banking licenses and 3 wholesale virtual banking licenses, which allow  Fintech companies to adopt advanced technology and data analysis to provide better banking services at a relatively low cost.

Singapore giants may compete with Ant Financial in the future as they have shown great interest in virtual banking license. MAS, known for its innovation supervision, adopts the approach of releasing virtual banking services in stages, taking both innovation and risk into account.

According to Alibaba’s fiscal report, Alibaba ranks first in blockchain patents application with the number of 1005 all over the world. Ant’s financial’s blockchain is able to support 1 billion accounts and 1 billion transactions per day, with 100000 cross-chain information processing  per second. Up to now, large-scale partners have built applications on the Ant blockchain’s BaaS platform.

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