Alibaba’s Embattled Fintech Giant Ant Group Launches Digital Bank in Singapore
Jack Ma’s Ant Group announced the launch of a wholesale digital bank in Singapore, marking one of the fintech giant’s biggest pushes abroad since its $37 billion IPO in 2020.
The bank, named ANEXT Bank, obtained approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to start operating on June 2, Ant said in a statement.
Ant won the approval to operate a wholesale digital bank in Singapore at the end of 2020, and was one of the first companies to obtain such a license, which allows it to provide services to financial institutions and corporations.
The fintech company said ANEXT will serve micro, small, and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs), with a particular focus on business with international operations.
“This marks yet another milestone in Singapore’s digital bank development journey, a strategic effort to ensure the banking sector remains progressive, globally competitive, and vibrant”said Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer of MAS
The bank will use Ant’s technology and expertise, as well as strike partnerships to offer “simpler, safer and more rewarding” financial services to SMEs.
Apart from ANEXT Bank, consumer tech company Sea and Grab’s venture were also among candidates that have been awarded a digital banking license by the MAS.
In contrast to Ant’s wholesale banking license, Grab and Sea won “digital full banking” licenses which allows them to provide services to both retail and corporate clients.
Ant, an affiliate of the Chinese giant Alibaba Group Holding, announced 20 new job openings in Singapore last month to bolster its workforce of about 300 in the city-state, which also serves as the company’s headquarters for its operations in Southeast Asia.
Ant bought the majority stake in the Singapore-based payments firm 2C2P in April as a part of its expansion drive in the region.
Two years ago, the fintech company’s virtual banking arm Ant Bank became the sixth “branchless” lender to provide services in Singapore.