Singapore has received applications from 21 entities seeking licences to launch digital bank.

This was confirmed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank, who said that seven applied for digital full bank (DFB) licences while 14 applied for digital wholesale bank (DWB) permits.

DWBs will cater to SMEs along with other non-retail segments. DFBs will be able to take retail deposits.

Names of the applicants were not confirmed. However, the regulator mentioned that the applicants are from varied sectors covering fintech, e-commerce, technology and telecommunications.

The applicants will be assessed by the central bank on multiple parameters. They include the ability to manage a sustainable digital bank, use of innovative technology, as well as contributions to Singapore’s financial centre.

Up to five digital bank licences will be provided. The names of the applicants securing the licences will be unveiled in June of this year.

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The digital banks are anticipated to start operations by the middle of next year.

Plans to issue up to five digital bank licences in Singapore were announced last year. The move is aimed at opening up the country’s banking industry.

“These new digital banks are in addition to any qualifying subsidiaries that Singapore bank groups may already establish under MAS’ existing regulatory framework for the purposes of operating new business models, including partnerships with non-bank players to conduct digital banking,” MAS said.