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UK-linked Enigma consortium applies for Singapore digibank licence

A CONSORTIUM led by Singapore-headquartered Enigma Group has applied for a digital full bank licence in the Republic, with the aim of serving the underbanked small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as the digital workforce.

The consortium includes three Singapore-based companies - management consultancy Qrypt Technologies, app developer 2359 Media and regulatory technology firm Blockchain Worx.

It also includes London-based Enigma Global Holdings, which recently agreed to acquire a challenger bank. Challenger banks in the UK are generally smaller retail banks which specialise in areas underserved by the country's big four banks. Enigma Global Holdings provides services relating to financial consultation, investments, mergers and acquisitions, and wealth management.

Enigma Group is separately also involved in a Swiss wealth management business.

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The consortium did not respond by press time to The Business Times' queries about the link between the two Enigma entities.

In its media statement released on Tuesday, the consortium said its proposed digital bank will leverage deep expertise in financial services, experience from its multiple existing licensed financial services operations in Europe, and emerging technologies to create its financial products for the target segments.

Samuel Heng, the designated chairman of the group, said: "The experience from our financial services operations in Europe will help us leverage technology and best practices from similar mature markets to address digital banking needs back home in Singapore." Dr Heng, a Singaporean, is a director of Enigma Global holdings.

Applicants for the digital full bank licence include New York-listed Internet company Sea; Grab and Singtel; a consortium including Razer Fintech and Sheng Siong's founders; and a consortium led by Ron Sim's V3 Group and stored-card operator EZ-Link.

Meanwhile, Singapore's digital wholesale banking licence has seen bids from Chinese companies Ant Financial, TikTok-owner ByteDance, and Xiaomi Finance. 

Before the Enigma consortium's announcement, the latest to make public its application for a licence was the leadership team behind Singapore-based venture capital firm Life.Sreda. Known as Arival, the Russian-linked contender is gunning for a digital wholesale banking licence to serve higher-risk clients.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore last week announced it had received a total of 21 digital bank applications, although it did not identify the companies. The wholesale licence saw 14 applications, while the full bank licence saw seven.