Ant Group, the financial technology giant controlled by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, announced on Monday that it will launch a digital wholesale bank incorporated in Singapore.
The move marks the Hangzhou-based company’s continued expansion abroad. Its China-based businesses are still under heavy regulatory pressure after the company’s $34 billion initial public offering was abruptly called off in late 2020. Ant Group recently revamped its board after agreeing in 2021 to become a financial holding company supervised by the country’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China.
Now, the fintech giant says its wholly owned and Singapore-based subsidiary ANEXT Bank will provide financial services to small- and medium-sized enterprises in the region, focusing in particular on those that have cross-border operations. Headed by former DBS executive Toh Su Mei and working together with local business-to-business marketplace Proxtera, the company is now offering a preview of the dual-currency ANEXT business account. It will officially offer them in the third quarter of this year.
“This marks yet another milestone in Singapore’s digital bank development journey, a strategic effort to ensure the banking sector remains progressive, globally competitive and vibrant,” said Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Chief Fintech Officer Sopnendu Mohanty.
Ant Group isn’t the only fintech firm seeking to provide digital banking services in Singapore. Last week, Green Link Digital Bank, which is owned by a consortium that includes Chinese developer Greenland Holdings and Linklogis Hong Kong, has commenced business in the country. Billionaire Forrest Li’s tech firm Sea Ltd. and Anthony Tan’s Grab Holdings were also granted digital bank licenses in 2020, and are expected to launch later this year
Ant, for its part, has recently strengthened it expansion across Southeast Asia when it announced in April that it had acquired a majority stake in Singapore-based fintech company 2C2P. The deal will see 2C2P’s current merchants connect to Ant Group’s cross-border e-wallet Alipay+.