Jack Ma’s Ant Group Launched a Digital Bank Focused on Small Business in Singapore

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma's Ant Group declared the Digital bank in Singapore on Monday, The new entity will offer account services to small and medium enterprises starting from Q3, 2022. 

Jack Ma’s Ant Group Launched a Digital Bank Focused on Small Business in Singapore

Ant Group's expansive footprint in serving small Businesses and technologies in cross-border payments. 

Ant Group owns China's largest digital payment gateway Alipay, which has a strong user base of merchants running a small businesses through the country's predominant e-commerce platform Alibaba The newly established digital bank will have a similar focus on such businesses, according to ANECT's official press release:

“The Singapore-based digital bank will focus on providing digital financial services to local and regional micro, small and medium enterprises [SMEs], especially those engaging in cross-border operations for growth and global expansion.”

Led by the former DBS bank executive Toh Su Mei, ANEXT would leverage Ant's "deep bench of technologies" to continue to serve the SME community. 

Following the approval by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) last Thursday, the digital bank would start by offering a preview of its dual currency deposit account. These include features like there-factor authentication verification, remote onboarding, and daily interest. Business owners can begin opening such an account from Q3, 2022

Ant's wholesale banking license issued by MAS requires a capital commitment of S$100 million to serve small and midsized firms and other non-retail segments ANEXT bank is one of the two applications that receive a license.

Also, Ant group signed a two-year Memorandum of understanding with Proxtera a local entity backed by MAS and Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority to create an open framework for partnership with financial institutions and provide support for the SME community. 

Why did Ant group choose Singapore?

Ant's latest move may have responded to its strategy of seeing Singapore as its base for the Southeast Asian market. Since Chinese regulators called off its IPO attempt in October 2020. Ant Group has reportedly doubled down its efforts on global expansion in an attempt to offset the consequences of the slow-growth domestic economy and regulatory overhauls.

In contrast to China's notorious stance against cryptocurrencies, Singapore has a relatively friendlier attitude. MAS reportedly would partner up with DBS Bank and JP Morgan Chase to introduce an initiative dedicated to exploring DeFi, to guide the nation's efforts to become a cryptocurrency hub. 

Also, MAS CFO Sopenendu Mohanty announced in the statement by the release that the authority will "ensure the banking sector remains progressive globally competitive and vibrant" 

According to the coverage of Forbes, besides Ant Group Nasdaq listed tech firms Sea Ltd and Grab holding was also granted the license to operate as digital banks in the country.

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