UPDATE: OCBC in talks with Singtel on virtual bank licenses: Bloomberg

OCBC Bank outlet in Johor Bahru in MalaysiaOCBC Bank outlet in Johor Bahru in Malaysia

This article was originally published on Wednesday, 21 August 2019 at 14:57 SGT; it has since been updated to add more details.

OCBC is in talks with Singtel and other companies about potentially seeking one of Singapore’s planned virtual banking licenses, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Singapore bank plans to take a minority stake in any joint venture as a way to tap potential new customers and markets, Bloomberg reported, citing the sources.

The talks are preliminary, the report said.

In June, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it would issue up to five new digital bank licences, in a move opening the banking sector to non-bank players.

Pranav Seth, head of digital and innovation at OCBC Bank, said in a statement emailed to Shenton Wire that the banks was open to new partnerships and ventures for serving new segments and markets.

“At the same time, we have been digitally transforming our entire franchise,” Seth said. “OCBC is the first bank to enable instant online account opening for SMEs and consumers, the first to avail robo-investment services and the first to give SMEs a holistic digital business dashboard.”

A Singtel spokesperson referred to comments the telco made in June, shortly after the MAS announced the new licences.

“We are open to exploring the feasibility of such an opportunity and will be reviewing the licensing conditions,” a Singtel spokesperson said at the time.

Reuters reported in June, citing people with knowledge of the process, that Southeast Asian ride-hailing startup Grab is exploring moving into banking in Singapore.

In late July, wealth management platform iFast also said it would seek a digital banking license.

Read the Bloomberg article.

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