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

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Ant Group, owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, announced the soft launch of its Singapore-based digital bank – ANEXT Bank – on Monday, marking its latest foray into digital banking outside of the domestic market. The new entity will offer account services to small and medium-sized businesses starting in the third quarter of 2022.

Using Ant’s Footprint to Help Small Businesses

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Ant Group owns China’s largest digital payment platform, Alipay, which has a large user base of small business merchants through the country’s dominant e-commerce platform, Alibaba. The newly established digital bank will pay the same attention to such businesses, ANEXT said. official release.

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

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Led by former DBS chief executive Toh Su Mei, ANEXT will leverage Ant’s “rich set of technologies” while continuing to serve the SMB community.

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Following approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) last Thursday, the digital bank will begin by previewing its dual-currency deposit account. These include features such as three-factor authentication verification, remote registration, and daily interest. Business owners can start opening such an account from the third quarter of 2022.

Ant’s Wholesale Banking License issued by MAS requires a capital investment of S$100 million ($73 million) to serve SMEs and other non-retail segments. ANEXT Bank is one of two applications that have received such a license.


In addition, Ant also signed a two-year MoU with Proxtera, a local organization supported by MAS and Infocomm Singapore’s Media Development Authority, to create an open framework for cooperation with financial institutions and support for the SME community.

Why Singapore?

Ant’s latest move may have been a response to its strategy of looking to Singapore as its base for the Southeast Asian market. Since Chinese regulators canceled an IPO attempt in October 2020, Ant Group has reportedly redoubled its global expansion efforts in an attempt to offset the effects of slow domestic growth and regulatory revisions.

In contrast to China’s notorious stance on cryptocurrencies, Singapore has a relatively friendlier attitude. MAS will reportedly partner with DBS Bank and JP Morgan Chase to introduce a DeFi exploration initiative to lead the nation’s efforts to become a cryptocurrency powerhouse.

In addition, MAS CFO Sopnendu Mohanty announced in a statement quoted in the release that the body “will ensure that the banking sector remains progressive, globally competitive and dynamic.” According to coating Forbes, in addition to Ant Group, Nasdaq-listed technology companies Sea Ltd and Grab Holdings have also been licensed to operate as digital banks in the country.

Featured image courtesy of Reuters

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