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Saturday, January 04, 2020, 17:06
iFast, Chinese partners submit Singapore digital license bid
By Bloomberg
Saturday, January 04, 2020, 17:06 By Bloomberg

Illuminated commercial and residential buildings stand in Singapore, on June 13, 2018. (BRENT LEWIN/BLOOMBERG)

Singapore-listed fintech firm iFast Corp. said it led a consortium of Chinese partners to submit an application for a digital wholesale bank license in the city-state.

The bid was submitted at the end of December, the company said in a stock exchange filing Friday. Its Chinese partners are Yillion Group and Hande Group.

The bid was submitted at the end of December, iFast said in a stock exchange filing Friday. Its Chinese partners are Yillion Group and Hande Group

Yillion operates one of four digital banks in China and counts internet firm Meituan Dianping as a shareholder, according to the statement. Hande is a Chinese fintech company founded by Cao Tong, the former president of Webank, China’s first digital bank that’s also backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd.

The consortium joins companies such as Razer Inc. and Grab Holdings Inc. in the race for digital banking licenses in the Southeast Asian nation. The Monetary Authority of Singapore unveiled plans last year to grant as many as five virtual bank licenses to boost competition and innovation and is set to announce the winners in mid-2020.

READ MORE: Traditional, virtual banks square off in battle for tech-savvy customers

iFast is tapping on the unique strengths and experiences of each consortium member to better address some of the inefficiencies, and assist the underserved market segments in Singapore’s banking industry, Chief Executive Officer Lim Chung Chun said in the filing.

Grab, one of Southeast Asia’s largest operators of online businesses from finance to car-hailing, is partnering Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. to apply for a full digital banking license. Razer has teamed up with homegrown Singaporean entrepreneurs and Asian billionaires.

ALSO READ: HK's digital banking push pits newcomers vs old-guard lenders

Southeast Asia’s digital lending market is expected to more than quadruple to US$110 billion by 2025, according to a report by Bain & Co., Google and Temasek Holdings Pte.

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