REMITTANCE startup InstaReM told The Business Times (BT) on Friday it plans to apply for the digital banking licence in Singapore when applications open in August.
Speaking to BT minutes after the announcement came out, CEO and founder of InstaReM Prajit Nanu said InstaReM "will surely" be applying for a licence. InstaReM is likely the first to publicly register its interest in holding a digital banking licence, with the startup currently powering payments for three of the top 10 South-east Asian banks.
"It's exciting to see MAS (the Monetary Authority of Singapore) take this important leap. Singapore is perfectly poised to be the centre of a digital banking revolution in Asia-Pacific. With our global infrastructure and technology, InstaReM is ready to take full advantage of this opportunity and contribute to the market with an enhanced set of offerings," he told BT.
"We have always gone where our clients' needs have pushed us and it's apparent that the next frontier in fintech is a complete overhaul of what people expect from their bank. Whether you are a consumer or a business, nothing touches your lives the way money does. And we have always been good at making these touch-points more seamless and elegant."
Singapore will issue up to five new licences to digital banks and begin taking applications from August, in one of the biggest liberalisation steps taken by the city-state in years.
The maximum of five new digital-bank licences to be issued in time will comprise up to two digital full-bank licences, and up to three digital wholesale bank licences. They must all meet the same capital requirements as local banks. This is in addition to any digital banks that the local banking groups may also establish.
This was announced on Friday night by senior minister and the chairman of MAS Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the annual Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) dinner. "The new digital bank licences mark the next chapter in Singapore's banking liberalisation journey," said Mr Tharman.
InstaReM has regulatory licences and approvals in Singapore, Australia, India, Europe, United States, Hong Kong, Canada and Malaysia.
It is backed by MDI Ventures, the venture capital arm of Indonesia's Telkom, and Beacon Venture Capital, the venture capital arm of Thailand's Kasikornbank. Other investors include Vertex Ventures and Rocket Internet.
InstaReM told BT in November that it plans to head for an initial public offering in 2021.