Ant Group-backed digital commercial bank moves to offer loans to SMEs
SINGAPORE – Ant Group, the Chinese financial technology giant controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, on Monday (June 6) announced the launch of its digital commercial bank, one of two that bagged a licence from the nation’s regulator.
ANEXT Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the group, is incorporated in Singapore and received the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) approval on June 2.
The Singapore-based digital bank says it will focus on providing digital financial services to local and regional micro, small and medium enterprises, especially those engaging in cross-border operations for growth and global expansion.
From the third quarter of this year, the general SME community will be able to set up a ANEXT Business Account, a dual-currency deposit account with proprietary security measures including three-factor authentication verification, as well as features such as remote onboarding and daily interest.
The digital bank’s chief executive Toh Su Mei said: “We believe it’s time to offer the next generation of financial services that are accessible and effortless for growing businesses.
“Amid rapid acceleration in the digital economy, business models are changing and pivoting to become digital-first, if not adopting a hybrid model. Financial services have to evolve and be where SMEs are doing their businesses digitally.”
The digital bank has entered a two-year agreement with Proxtera – an entity that digitally connects business to business marketplaces, service providers, and trade associations – to improve cross-border trade among SMEs and businesses.It will be Proxtera’s first participating digital wholesale bank in Singapore and will provide financing solutions to the buyers and sellers on the network.
Proxtera, launched in 2020 by MAS, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and private sector entities, now has 18 progressive platforms across Asia and Africa and up to 400,000 SMEs in the network.
Chief executive of Proxtera Saurav Bhattacharyya said seamless access and availability of trade financing solutions will help amplify business growth and accelerate expansion for SMEs.
The chief fintech officer at MAS Sopnendu Mohanty who was at the soft launch noted that continuous innovation and new capabilities that digital banks are slated to bring “will no doubt add more engines of growth to Singapore’s financial sector”.
ANEXT Bank is one of two digital commercial banks to have snagged a licence from the MAS in 2020.
The other is Greenland Group-backed Green Link Digital Bank, which targets SMEs and non-retail clients and launched last Friday (June 3).