(Yicai Global) Nov. 19 -- Ant Financial Services Group, China's largest online financial services provider, said it is "actively looking" into applying for a license to operate as a virtual bank in Singapore.
The Hangzhou-based company is investigating the possibility, a spokesperson said. "We welcome and support MAS' (Monetary Authority of Singapore) efforts to promote innovative financial services in Singapore and we are actively looking into this opportunity," the person said.
Singapore will issue as many as five licenses to non-banks to enhance competition in the financial services sector, regulators said at the end of June. Ant Financial, the fintech affiliate of China's Alibaba Group Holding, would be up against traditional lenders such as DBS Bank and OCBC Bank if it decided to make a pitch for one of the online banking certificates.
Bloomberg reported earlier today that Ant Financial said it may apply for one of the permits.
Ant Financial has already secured such a license in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced on May 9 that the financial management commissioner had granted permits to Ant Merchant Service Hong Kong, Infinium, Insight Fintech HK and Ping An OneConnect, adding that they are effective from the date of issuance.