Beyond consortium launches bid for Digital Full Bank License with a focus on SMEs

Picture by Mohamed Hassan

Beyond consortium has launched a bid for a digital full bank license from MAS, with a focus on SMEs. The consortium comprises V3 Group, EZ-Link, property developer Far East Organization and Temasek-subsidiary Heliconia Capital Management. Other notable members include the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, the latter which operates general insurance business MSIG Insurance (Singapore).

According to an SBF press release, the consortium members have a massive reach to SMEs and individuals across various industries that include real estate, construction, mass transport, insurance and retail.

The consortium plans to take take an industry specific approach, and looks to redefine the role of banking when it comes to serving the needs of its customers, promoting connectivity and supporting local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in extending their footprint in Asia.

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According to Gan Chee Yen, chairman-designate of the Beyond consortium, they have “developed a suite of innovative products and services to cater to the needs of digital natives, the gig economy, the silver generation, and SMEs operating in different industries.”

He also reaffirmed their belief that a bank that is “inclusive, fair and equitable will be able to serve these communities, and help them to meet their goals and aspirations.”

Gan added that this was possible given technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain that can leverage on a deep understanding of behavioral economics and data.

Digital banks set to improve SMEs’ access to financing

According to a statement, 70% of Singaporeans work in SMEs, which contribute to a significant portion of the country’s gross domestic product and represent a major driver of future growth.

However, according to Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF, “Though SMEs play a significant role in the economy, some SMEs, especially smaller enterprises and startups, tend to face more difficulty managing their financing and securing funding from traditional banks.”

As such, he felt encouraged “to see the active interest by many companies to establish digital banks in Singapore, as they will improve access to financing for our SMEs.”

Beyond’s effort, added Mr Ho, will help local businesses expand into new markets, as well as “enhance the services SBF can provide to its membership base of over 27,000, elevate their competitiveness and create better jobs for Singaporeans”.

The consortium plans to leverage on the core strengths and networks of its members such as EZ-Link, which issues the cards commonly used for public transport and retail and general insurer MSIG, which will develop customized insurance solutions to meet the needs of the under-served.

Beyond said customers and businesses can expect more choices in the form of micro-coverage, modular and usage-based insurance.

Mr Ron Sim, founder and executive chairman of V3 Group which owns, among others, high-end massage chair maker Osim and luxury tea brand TWG Tea, said in a statement: “Pure digital banking is the future, and we aim to embrace it together with the rest of Singapore’s promising fintech community.”

“We also cannot be solely focused on catering to the digital natives,” he added. “The vast majority of people in Singapore are part of the SME ecosystem, and we want to help them and their families.”