Ant Group Plans to Launch Cross-border Digital Bank in Singapore

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Fintech giant Ant Group has unveiled plans to open a digital wholesale bank in the South-east Asian city-state of Singapore.

On Monday Ant Group announced that it would incorporate ANEXT Bank as a wholly-owned Singapore-based subsidiary, focusing in particular upon the cross-border operations of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the region.

Ex-DBS executive Toh Su Mei will head ANEX Bank, while B2B marketplace Proxtera will serve as one of its local partners.

ANEXT is already offering a preview version of the dual-currency ANEXT business account, which is scheduled for official release in the third quarter.

Singapore’s central bank hailed the move as shoring up the regional financial centre’s fintech capabilities and international competitiveness.

“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 Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer for the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

The move by Ant Group marks a further continuation of its overseas expansion, following a troubled period for the Jack Ma-backed fintech platform. Ant Group saw its $34 billion IPO shelved at the last minute in November 2020 due to concerns on the part of Chinese financial authorities.

Chinese authorities subsequently called for Ant Group to return to its original focus on payments, as well as pushed for its conversion into a financial holding company in order to expedite regulatory scrutiny.