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Grab pushing for virtual banking license in Singapore

  • Jun 13, 2019

Grab is reportedly pursuing a virtual banking license in Singapore as the firm seeks to enter the city-state's financial services space.

However, regulators there are still working on rules that will govern virtual banking. Grab subsidiary, Grab Financial, headed by Reuben Lai, is determined that the division will become the "ASEAN wallet of choice." Reports also indicate Grab Financial is close to hiring a consultancy to advise on the potential of a virtual banking license.

Industry observers say Singapore's regulators are still in the process of creating the framework for virtual banking, but are not expected to be as aggressive as Hong Kong, which handed out several virtual banking licenses earlier this year.

Experts say having Grab or other fintechs enter the Singapore banking sector would be the biggest shake-up in the history of country's finance scene. The market has been dominated by three local banks - DBS Group Holdings, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation and United Overseas Bank.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore is apparently under pressure to make a decision and is expected to do so in the next few months as to whether to approve digital-only banks that have non-banking sector ownership.

Those close to the situation reportedly said Singapore's banking regulator is unlikely to issue more than two or three virtual banking licenses in the first phase.

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