Razer and Ant Financial apply for Singapore online bank licence

A security guard stands next to the logo of Ant Financial Services Group, Alibaba's financial affiliate, at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. REUTERS/Shu Zhang

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Gaming firm Razer Inc said on Thursday it is leading a consortium of companies that has applied for a online bank licence in Singapore, joining the race to shake up the city state’s financial sector.

Razer’s fintech business will have a 60% stake in the consortium that includes insurance firm FWD and Sheng Siong Holdings, a private vehicle of the Lim brothers behind a Singaporean supermarket chain.

Razer Fintech said its bid to set up a retail bank will leverage “on the strength of Razer as a lifestyle brand synonymous with the youth and millennials, Razer’s global presence and the innovative digital payments platform Razer Fintech has built.”

Others in the consortium include venture firm Insignia Ventures Partners, mobile internet company LinkSure Global and vehicle marketplace Carro.

China’s Ant Financial, an affiliate of ecommerce giant Alibaba Group Holdings, has joined the race for a digital banking licence in Singapore, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has said it will issue five such licences, as it embarks on the biggest liberalisation of its banking sector in two decades.

“In line with our commitment to promoting financial inclusion globally, we have submitted an application to the Monetary Authority of Singapore for a digital wholesale banking licence,” a spokesperson for the company said in an emailed statement.

“We look forward to contributing to the development of the digital banking landscape in Singapore.”

MAS, Singapore’s central bank, is set to issue up to two “digital full bank” licences and three wholesale bank licences.

The city-state is set to announce the winners in mid-2020 and the digital banks are expected to start operations in a phased manner from mid-2021.

A spokeswoman for MAS said it could not comment on individual licence applications.

Earlier this week, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd said it was teaming up with Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab to bid for the licence.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Leng Cheng and Brenda Goh in Shanghai and Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Alex Richardson)

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