Chinese group Ant launches digital bank ANEXT in Singapore

A man walks past an Ant Group logo during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China July 8, 2021. REUTERS/Yilei Sun/File Photo

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BEIJING, June 6 (Reuters) – China’s Ant Group, a financial technology (fintech) giant controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, said on Monday it has launched a Singapore-incorporated digital wholesale bank called ANEXT Bank.

ANEXT has received approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to start operations on June 2, Ant and wholly-owned ANEXT said in a joint statement.

The move marks one of Ant’s biggest overseas pushes since its $37 billion initial public offering (IPO) was derailed by Chinese regulators in late 2020.

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Ant was awarded one of Singapore’s first digital wholesale banking licenses in late 2020, allowing it to serve large customers, including financial institutions and corporates.

Ant, about 33% owned by e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (9988.HK), said ANEXT focused on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularly those with operations cross-border.

“This marks another milestone in Singapore’s digital banking development journey, a strategic effort to ensure the banking industry remains progressive, competitive and globally vibrant,” said Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Financial Technology Officer of Singapore. MAS.

Tech company Sea and ride-sharing and fintech firm Grab won “digital full bank” licenses in 2020, allowing Singaporean businesses to take deposits directly and offer services locally to individuals as well as businesses.

MAS said he expects the pair to launch digital banks this year.

Led by banking veteran Toh Su Mei, ANEXT will develop an open framework for financial institutions in collaboration with Proxtera, a local entity initiated by MAS and Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority, according to the statement.

The ANEXT business account will be available for SMBs from the third quarter of this year, the companies said.

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Reporting by Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh; Editing by Kim Coghill and Christopher Cushing

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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