Singapore Fintech Startup MatchMove Joins Digital Bank Race

Singapore Fintech Startup MatchMove Joins Digital Bank Race

Singapore financial-technology firm MatchMove has teamed up with homegrown finance company Singapura Finance Ltd. and two others to apply for a digital banking license in the city-state.

The MatchMove-led consortium is the latest group to announce it’s submitted an application for a digital full banking license to the Monetary Authority of Singapore. That sets the firm against heavyweights including Sea Ltd., which is backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., and the Grab Holdings Inc.-Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. consortium.

Efforts to open up the Singapore banking industry to technology companies come on the heels of a similar move in Hong Kong, where units of Ant Financial and other Chinese firms including Tencent obtained licenses.

Singapore plans to issue as many as two digital full-bank licenses, which will enable successful applicants to serve retail as well as corporate clients. Candidates will need to meet requirements including paid-up capital of S$1.5 billion ($1 billion), and winners are scheduled to be decided in the middle of the year.


According to Chief Executive Officer Shailesh Naik, MatchMove stands out because of its experience building bank-like capabilities for corporate clients in industries ranging from agriculture to shipping and aviation. For example, it works with Singapore shipping company Marine Innovation to make it easier for its sailors to send money home.

“In many ways, we are already acting like a digital bank,” Naik, who is also the founder, said in an interview. “We want to leverage our existing capabilities to reach underserved segments” like small companies and gig-economy workers, he added.

The other consortium partners are Lightnet, a Bangkok-based blockchain venture, and London-based fintech startup OpenPayd. Lightnet was co-founded by Chatchaval Jiaravanon, whose family runs the Charoen Pokphand Group, one of Thailand’s largest conglomerates.

Payments Pivot

Naik founded MatchMove with Leow Hsueh Huah in 2009 as a games and entertainment business that gives joy to consumers. It pivoted into a payments company in 2016, operating a digital wallet that allows businesses to make payments online and offline via prepaid cards. Valued at $305 million, the company now has 70 corporate clients and the CEO expects to have access to 1 million people in Singapore through partners by the end of the year.

Singapura Finance, which holds about 1.6% of MatchMove shares, provides loans to individuals and companies, along with deposit services.

Other backers of MatchMove include Vickers Venture Partners and NTT Docomo Ventures Inc. Separately, Naik said his company is currently raising $150 million for expansion into new markets including Europe.

“We started out with a simple idea of giving a few minutes of fun every day with endorphin content,” Naik said. “We later realized that even for a few minutes of entertainment, people were having difficulty making payments because they didn’t have bank accounts. So we broadened the service.”

Authors: Yoolim Lee and Chanyaporn Chanjaroen

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