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China’s Ant Group launches digital bank ANEXT in Singapore

A man walks past an ant group logo at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China July 8, 2021. REUTERS / Yilei Sun / File Photo

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BEIJING, June 6 (Reuters) – China’s Ant Group, a fintech giant controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, said Monday it has launched a digital wholesale bank incorporated in Singapore, called ANEXT Bank.

ANEXT received approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to start operations on June 2, Ant and wholly owned ANEXT said in a joint statement.

The move marks one of Ant’s biggest foreign advances since its $ 37 billion IPO was tracked down by Chinese regulators in late 2020.

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Ant obtained one of Singapore’s first digital wholesale banking licenses at the end of 2020, so that it could serve large customers, including financial institutions and companies.

Ant, about 33% owned by e-commerce manager Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (9988.HK), said ANEXT’s focus was micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially those with cross-border business.

“This marks another milestone in Singapore’s digital banking development journey, a strategic effort to ensure that the banking sector remains progressive, globally competitive and vibrant,” said MAS Chief Fintech Officer Sopnendu Mohanty.

The technology company Sea and an investment in ride-hailing and the fintech company Grab won “digital full bank” licenses in 2020, so that the Singaporean companies can make direct deposits and offer services locally to retailers as well as corporate customers.

MAS has said they expect the couple to launch digital banks this year.

The board of banking veteran Toh Su Mei, ANEXT will develop an open framework for financial institutions in collaboration with Proxtera, a local entity initiated by MAS and Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority, the statement said.

The NEXT business account will be available for small and medium-sized businesses from the third quarter of this year, the companies said.

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Reporting by Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh; Edited by Kim Coghill and Christopher Cushing

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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