Enigma Group consortium applies for SG digital bank licence

A man carrying an umbrella walks along the Jubilee Bridge in front of the city skyline in Singapore. Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg

A consortium led by Enigma Group said on Monday it has joined the race for one of two full digital bank licences in Singapore. This is the fifth group that has publicly announced its bid.

The Enigma Group consortium includes Singapore-based companies Qrypt Technologies, 2359 Media and Blockchain Worx. It also includes U.K.-based Enigma Global Holdings, which had recently entered a deal to acquire an existing challenger bank. Challenger banks are U.K. retail banks competing with the country’s big four banks, often by seeking niche markets.

In an email to DealStreetAsia late Monday, Enigma declined to reveal the name of the challenger bank, saying it could hinder the deal.

According to a Monetary Authority of Singapore statement, there were seven applications for digital full bank licences, which would allow the bank to operate retail banking business and accept Singapore-dollar deposits. There were 14 applications for digital wholesale bank licences.

Singapore’s central bank did not name the applicants but noted most have formed consortiums. The regulator is to issue two digital full bank and three digital wholesale bank licences.

The MAS told DealStreetAsia it could not comment on whether specific entities applied for licences.

“The experience from our financial services operations and footprint in Europe will help us leverage leading-edge technology and best practices from similar mature markets to address digital banking needs back home in Singapore too,” Samuel Heng, chairman of the Enigma consortium, and a director at Enigma Global, said in a statement.

Enigma said it handles securities dealings on its own accounts and handles security and commodities contract dealing activities.

Qrypt Technologies is in the cybersecurity segment, while 2359 Media develops mobile apps. Blockchain Worx uses blockchain technology to assist with regulatory filings.

Other applicants for Singapore’s full bank digital licence currently include Grab-Singtel, a Razer-led consortium, Sea Group and the Beyond Consortium (led by V3 Group).

While the successful bidders for the licences will be expected to serve the so-called ‘underbanked’ in Singapore – such as the youth, and small-to-medium enterprises that lack access to financing – they would most certainly be using the licence as a stepping stone to regional expansion, observers say.

Southeast Asia’s digital lending market is forecast to grow from $23 billion in 2019 to $110 billion by 2025, according to a report last year from Google, Temasek and Bain.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.