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Ant Group soft launches ANEXT in S’pore, a digital wholesale bank focused on SME funding

ANEXT, a digital wholesale bank and subsidiary of Chinese economic giant Ant Group, was soft launched today (June 6).

This follows its receipt of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)’s approval of its licence last Thursday, and is part of Ant Group’s expansion into Southeast Asia. 

Only two such licences have been granted after a total of 14 eligible applicants, with the other licence being awarded to a consortium comprising Greenland Financial Holdings Group, and Linklogis Hong Kong. Their digital wholesale bank, known as Green Link Digital Bank, launched last week.

sopnendu mohanty cfo mas
Image Credit: ANEXT

The official launch was attended by Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer at the MAS, as well as Angel Zhao, president of International Business Group at Ant Group.

In his address, Sopnendu raised hopes that ANEXT would be able to provide credit for SMEs, which is sorely lacking, and expects that ANEXT would be able to draw upon Ant Group’s resources and business models to provide said capital in line with local regulations.

“This marks yet another milestone in Singapore’s digital bank development journey, a strategic effort to ensure the banking sector remains progressive, globally competitive, and vibrant. Continuous innovation and new capabilities that digital banks are spared to bring will no doubt add more engines of growth to Singapore;s financial sector,” he said.

“MAS expects the digital banks to thrive and synergise with our dynamic financial institutions and raise the bar in delivering quality financial services, and to uplift Singapore’s financial sector to better support the growth of SMEs.”

Toh Su Mei, CEO of ANEXT, commented that “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.”

ANEXT to focus on tailoring solutions to SMEs in Singapore

While declining to provide specific figures, Su Mei stated that Southeast Asia is an important region, and that ANEXT is aiming to provide funding to SMEs in the region, particularly those engaging in cross-border trade. 

anext toh su mei
Image Credit: ANEXT

However, she also assured businesses that ANEXT is “not here to bring a price war, and that the bank’s interest rates will be determined by the market, in a collaborative approach, working with government banks and other partners in the financial sector.”

To that end, ANEXT hopes to learn what SMEs need, particularly what they are not getting from other banks, and tailor solutions for them.

She also expressed hope that ANEXT can help solve some pain points faced by SMEs in Singapore, especially with regards to their ambitions of expanding into the Chinese market, regardless of industry.

ANEXT is also committed to data protection and privacy, having developed the ANEXT business account with three-factor authentication. This account will be made available to the general SME community in the third quarter of the year.

Hitting the ground running

In conjunction with the launch, ANEXT has also signed a two-year Memorandum of Understanding with Proxtera today, agreeing to jointly create and establish an open framework to support SMEs and platforms in global trade.

anext
From left to right: Saurav Vhattacharrya, Sopnendu Mohanty, Toh Su Mei / Image Credit: ANEXT

The framework will allow participating financial institutions to provide financing and risk mitigation support for SMEs, and ANEXT will be the first participating digital wholesale bank in Singapore to lead the way in providing financing solutions to clients on Proxtera’s network.

Proxtera itself is a platform that enables businesses to increase discoverability, through integrations into B2B marketplaces. The platform is supported by both MAS and IMDA, and offers embedded financing, fulfillment services, and SME empowerment.

Referencing the collaboration between ANEXT and Proxtera, CEO of Proxtera Saurav Bhattacharyya stated that his company’s commitment to simplifying global trade for SMEs through tech and innovative digital services is closely aligned with ANEXT’s focus on providing finance for SMEs.

Featured Image Credit: ANEXT

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