Business

Grab looks to move into Singapore banking sector

HONG KONG/SINGAPORE :  Grab is exploring a move into Singapore banking as regulators consider allowing online-only banks, four people with knowledge of the process said.

Grab is close to hiring a consultancy to advise it and is gearing up to apply for a digital-only bank licence in Singapore if the banking regulator decides to open up the sector, said the people, who declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

When asked for a response, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) referred Reuters to its comments issued last month when it said it was studying the potential for allowing "digital-only banks with non-bank parentage" into its market.

A potential entry by Singapore-based Grab - backed by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp - and others would mark the biggest shake-up in years for a market dominated by DBS Group Holdings Ltd, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank Ltd.

MAS could make a decision in the next couple of months on whether to admit digital-only banks with non-bank parentage, as well as the eligibility of applicants, the people said.

The banking regulator is likely to issue only two to three licences in the first phase, two of the people said.

Securing a digital banking licence in Singapore could help seven-year-old Grab to benefit from its existing data on transport movements, payment transactions and consumer behaviour, the people said. - REUTERS

BUSINESS & FINANCE