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.