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Grab’s ambitious expansion; eyes Singapore banking license

Grab is now contemplating hiring consultants to advise it on its banking potential and is gearing up to apply for a digital-only bank licence in Singapore

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From car pooling, to food delivery, to loans provision, Grab appears to be leading an expansion spree as it now eyes the banking sector of Singapore.

Grab, one of the most daring among Southeast Asian start-ups, is exploring a move into Singapore banking. It is now contemplating hiring consultants to advise it on its banking potential and is gearing up to apply for a digital-only bank licence in Singapore.

Based on Grab’s interest in this sector, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it is studying the prospects of allowing “digital-only banks with non-bank parentage” into its market, a remark issued by the agency during an interview with Reuters.

The biggest shake-up

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

The MAS will 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 applicants, sources say.

The interest from Grab highlights how Asia’s non-banking firms are eager and willing to challenge traditional banks by leveraging their technology and their user databases in offering banking services to retail customers and small businesses.

Those privy to the transactions say that 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.

Last year, Grab teamed up with Japan’s Credit Saison Co to provide loans in Southeast Asia.

-/TISG

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