Singapore automotive marketplace Carro is eyeing a digital wholesale bank license to serve SMEs.
The startup has begun talks with potential partners to apply for the license.
With this move, Founder and CEO Aaron Tan expressed the ambition for Carro, which now operates in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, to “move beyond just the car vertical”.
In a statement to Vulcan Post, Tan added, “By having a digital banking license, Carro can create more differentiated products.”
Today, we largely deal with companies involved in the auto trade; however, we do not see any barriers for us to move beyond that sector and into SME loans.
Aaron Tan, Founder and CEO, Carro
Part of their plans would be to use cloud based platforms, big data and data science to provide SMEs with a digital-first banking experience.
He also noted that they are interested in providing more than just loans, and would like to create “different lending products not seen before in the market”.
If successful, having a digital bank license could be especially beneficial to Carro’s sister company, Genie Financial Services, which currently already provides loans and insurance to car dealers and buyers.
Genie was set up in 2017, with US$12 million that Carro raised from investors, to answer the latter’s difficulty in helping their customers finance car purchases.
The financial services firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of Carro, headed by CEO Helen Neo, who has previously been Senior Executive Vice-President at Maybank and Head of Personal Financial Services at HL Bank.
According to Neo, Genie made a net profit of over S$3 million in the financial year ending March 2019, a growth of more than three times from the previous financial year.
Tan said Genie, as an example, would “thrive” on the low costs of operating as a digital bank, compared to traditional banks that have to “shoulder the cost of establishing many branches”.
“Genie [would then pass] the cost of these savings along to the borrowers,” he said.
However, he was unable to comment on whether Carro, Genie, or both companies are looking to secure a digital bank license.
Featured Image Credit: SMU