Grab and Singtel, one of the largest telecoms in Singapore, announced today that they are applying for a digital full bank license together. If approved, the license will allow them to offer simple credit and investment products, before progressing to a full-functioning bank if they meet the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) criteria.
Grab will hold a 60% stake in the consortium, with Singtel holding the other 40%. A joint statement said the companies are “committed to contributing to the financial services sector with a differentiated offering that addresses the unmet and underserved needs of consumer and enterprise segments in Singapore,” including SMEs that need access to credit. Securing working capital is a major pain point across Southeast Asia, with several startup and financial institutions working on new tools to gauge creditworthiness and manage loans.
Grab launched in 2012 as a ridesharing company, but now bills itself as “Southeast Asia’s leading super app,” with an app that provides a wide array of service, including transportation, logistics, food delivery, ticket and hotel booking and financial services, all through one portal.
It entered financial services in 2016 with the introduction of GrabPay Wallet, a digital wallet, before launching Grab Financial Group in 2019. Grab Financial Group’s services include online payments, lending and insurance products that it says reaches 100 million users across Southeast Asia.
In a press statement, Grab Financial Group senior managing director Reuben Lai said the consortium’s plan is to “build a truly customer-centric digital bank that will deliver a variety of banking and financial services that are accessible, transparent and affordable.”
MAS announced in June that it will issue up to two digital full bank licenses and three digital wholesale bank licenses, as part of a bid to liberalize Singapore’s banking sector.