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Xiaomi, AMTD Group join race for Singapore digital banking license

Xiaomi Corp. entered the race for a digital wholesale banking license in Singapore by teaming up with three companies.

The partnership comprises Xiaomi Finance along with Hong Kong-based conglomerate AMTD Group Co. Ltd., digital financing platform Funding Societies Pte. Ltd. and energy utilities provider SP Group.

AMTD CEO Calvin Choi signaled the company's interest in applying for a digital banking license in 2019. Choi said the company can connect a digital bank in Singapore to its digital bank in Hong Kong to offer a more comprehensive suite of financial services to customers.

The consortium, which applied for the license, aims to create financial solutions and products for small and medium-sized enterprises in Southeast Asia and Greater China.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said it received seven applications for digital full bank licenses and 14 applications for digital wholesale bank licenses. Applicants include a partnership between telecom operator Singtel and ride-hailing app Grab Holdings Inc., TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Ltd. and a group led by gaming hardware manufacturer Razer Inc.

Ant Financial Services Group and an iFAST Corp. Ltd.-led consortium are also in the running for a digital bank license in the city-state.

Singapore's central bank plans to issue up to five new digital bank licenses — two for digital full banks and three for digital wholesale banks. Authorities will announce the successful applicants in June, with the new digital banks expected to commence operations by mid-2021.