As the year-end approaches, Singapore will be issuing up to two retail and three wholesale digital banking licenses with the aim to boost competition and innovation in an industry dominated by traditional players such as DBS Group, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) and United Overseas Bank (UOB). The new digital banking licenses are intended to open up the sector to online-only challenger banks that can operate at lower costs and hence offer more competitive products and services. To apply for a digital banking licenses , the tech companies, banks and brokerages are racing to form partnerships to meet regulators’ stiff requirements.
Singapore regulators are demanding stringent requirements including S$1.5 billion in paid-in capital for retail banks. In addition, applicants must be headquartered in Singapore and have to be majorly controlled by Singapore nationals. This implies that most bidders have to team up to meet the entry conditions by combining banking know-how, technology expertise and deep pockets.