By Clarence Leong
SINGAPORE — Chinese financial technology giant Ant Group Co. on Monday launched a digital bank in Singapore that will serve small businesses in the city-state, expanding the company’s footprint outside of China.
Anext Bank, a wholly-owned Singapore-incorporated subsidiary of Ant, has started operations and will provide digital financial services to micro, small and medium enterprises, targeting those transacting cross-border.
Anext will use Ant’s technologies and experience to serve Singapore’s SME community and intends to work with the country’s incumbent banks, Anext chief executive Toh Su Mei said at a meeting. press conference.
“We are not here to compete and certainly not here to try to create a price war,” she added.
Ms. Toh said Nextt can also help facilitate business relationships with China for its customers. The bank will roll out a dual-currency deposit account for businesses and plans to introduce other products later.
Sopnendu Mohanty, director of fintech at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said he expects Anext to roll out the business models that underpin Ant’s “tremendous success” in China. He added that Nextt must ensure compliance with local regulations and know-your-customer requirements, and should hire many employees locally.
About 25% of Next’s employees are in mainland China, with the rest in Singapore, Ms Toh said.
Ant, based in Hangzhou, China, operates Alipay, a ubiquitous mobile payment app in the country, and also provides many small and micro businesses with online loans and other financial services.
A unit of Ant was awarded one of two digital wholesale banking licenses by MAS, Singapore’s central bank, in December 2020. The other went to a consortium that includes units from Chinese property developer Greenland Holdings Corp. and supply chain finance specialist Linklogis Inc. This consortium’s Green Link Digital Bank opened its doors last week. The MAS requires wholesale banks to have at least S$100 million ($72.7 million) in paid-up capital.
MAS also granted digital retail banking licenses to a consortium consisting of Grab Holdings Inc. and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., and an entity owned by Sea Ltd.
Write to Clarence Leong at [email protected]