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Standard Chartered Seeks Digital Banking Permit in Singapore

The U.K.’s Standard Chartered bank is embarking on a joint venture deal with Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to launch a digital-only bank.

As Reuters reported on Monday (Sept. 6), the deal will see a Standard Chartered vehicle taking on a 60% stake in the venture, which is worth $107.2 million, with the NTUC’s enterprise arm getting the remaining $96 million stake.

This comes after Standard Chartered launched another digital-only banking venture, known as Mox, in Hong Kong last year, while FinTech investments were booming in Southeast Asia. A spokesman for the U.K. bank told Reuters the decision on branding for the digital bank in Singapore is still forthcoming.

Standard Chartered obtained a full Singaporean banking license last year. It was one of several companies that expressed interest after the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced it was issuing digital bank licenses in the country in 2019.

Read more: Singtel, Grab Team up: Digital Banking in Singapore

That year, Singtel, a leading communications technology group in Asia, and Grab, the region’s top super app, formed a digital banking consortium aimed at helping people in Singapore who were traditionally left behind in banking.

Learn more: FinTechs Vie for Digital Banking Licenses in Malaysia

As PYMNTS reported earlier this summer, Singapore’s neighbor Malaysia is planning on issuing its own digital banking licenses next year.

“Malaysia has many of the characteristics digital banking players are looking for, with a sizable population, large smartphone penetration and young population eager to try out new services,” said Shankar Kanabiran, financial services consulting partner at EY.

Several FinTechs have expressed interest in getting one of these licenses, which require about $72 million in capital. It’s a much less stringent requirement than Singapore, which wants banking license applicants with around $1.1 billion in paid-up capital for digital banks already operating, or $100 million for digital wholesale banks.

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