In December 2020, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) awarded digital bank licenses to four contenders.
Digital full bank licenses were awarded to a Grab-Singtel consortium and tech giant Sea, while digital wholesale bank licenses were awarded to Ant Group and a consortium led by real estate developer Greenland Financial Holdings.
Fast forward two years later, the four digital banks are set to launch this year with a common goal to target underserved segments in an already well-banked market, opening up more job opportunities within the fintech sector:
1. Grab and Singtel
Together, Grab and Singtel have embarked on a joint venture called GXS Bank, which aims to support young PMETs, gig workers, and micro-SMEs to have access to transparent and convenient financial services for their daily activities.
It is recently reported that Grab is targeting the public launch of its Singapore digital bank in the second half of 2022.
Back in December 2020, Grab-Singtel said that that it will set up a dedicated team and hire 200 roles by the end of last year in the areas of product, data, technology, risk, finance and compliance.
Grab accelerated its hiring plans when it announced in February 2021 that it was partnering with the Infocomm Media Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and Digital Industry Singapore (DIS) to create 350 new jobs to support its growth plans, which includes the development of the upcoming digital bank consortium.
Currently, only over 20 digibank jobs are available at Grab, including internship positions. Some roles include lead UX writer, head operational risk, lead data engineer and senior data scientist. You can check them out here.
Separately, MyCareersFuture also lists several roles for GXS Bank, with a starting monthly salary for S$5,800 for Business Efficiency, Senior Specialist and Customer Experience Service Assurance & Quality Trainer. The highest-paying role listed on the platform is Security Engineer, with S$10,000 to S$13,500 salary.
On the other hand, a search on Singtel’s careers page did not reveal any digital bank-specific roles.
2. Sea Group
Compared to Grab-Singtel, Sea has been quieter on its digital banking developments.
The standout news was Sea’s e-commerce arm Shopee acquisition of Indonesian lender Bank Kesejahteraan Ekonomi (Bank BKE) in January 2021, intending to transform the latter into a digital bank.
While Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK) is expected to release a new set of regulations for digital banks in mid-2021, Sea’s digital banking ambitions in Indonesia are likely to be strategically linked to its similar venture in Singapore.
In a MAS document detailing the eligibility criteria and requirements for digital banks, it was stated licensees were allowed to operate in no more than two overseas markets, subject to regulatory approval.
Hence, it is anticipated that Sea’s digital bank in Singapore will serve as a regional base for the group’s digital banking operations.
According to Sea, its digital banking venture aims to meet the financial needs of young consumers and SMEs to drive the digital economy.
On the hiring front, 12 digibank jobs are currently available at Sea, under Group COO’s Office and Engineering teams, ranging from entry-level to experienced positions. Some roles include product manager, security engineer, helpdesk engineer and database administrator. You can check them out here.
3. Ant Group
Among the four licensees, Ant has arguably the deepest expertise in digital financial services given its success in China. It is one of the largest fintech firms globally and it’s best known for its payment solution Alipay.
Unlike digital banks with digital full bank licences, Ant Group will be looking to serve Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) in Singapore.
According to a recent update posted on its LinkedIn page, Ant Group is recruiting 20 new positions in Singapore as it doubles down on expansion in the Southeast Asia region.
It is one of the biggest Singapore hiring sprees for Ant, which currently employs about 300 workers in Singapore to run its Southeast Asian businesses. The planned expansion of Ant’s digital banking team reflects that its Singapore digital bank is likely to open later this year.
On its LinkedIn page, there are currently 10 digibank jobs available at Ant Group. Some roles include business intelligence architect, credit approver, product manager, IT security engineer and legal counsel. You can check them out here.
4. Greenland Consortium
Led by Greenland Financial Holdings, a subsidiary of Chinese real estate developer Greenland Group, the consortium also includes blockchain-based supply chain financing platform Linklogis Hong Kong & Beijing Co-operative Equity Investment Fund Management.
Apart from the licensing announcement, not much has been shared so far on the consortium’s plans.
Shanghai Daily reported in April 2021 that Greenland Financial was preparing for a separate stock listing. Its parent company, state-owned real estate company Greenland Group is currently listed on the Shanghai Exchange.
Meanwhile, Linklogis, one of two other companies within the consortium, filed for an IPO that same month on the Hong Kong Exchange, raising up to US$1 billion.
Beyond that, there has unfortunately been no news on hiring or digital banking-related efforts from the consortium.
More fintech job opportunities to come
MAS recently estimates that there will be more than 9,400 new hiring opportunities for permanent roles in the financial sector in 2022 as the country is now home to over 50 global and regional innovation labs and more than 1,400 fintech firms.
Of these, more than 3,000 jobs will be in technology as financial institutions in Singapore are making significant investments in that area.
Major banks and insurers are accelerating their digital transformation and ramping up hiring in application development, data science, and artificial intelligence.
For instance, OCBC recently announced that it plans to hire 1,500 technology staff over the next three years, with the majority of those positions to be based in Singapore.
MAS has been been working closely with financial institutions, institutes of higher learning, and other government agencies to expand our local talent pipeline and build a strong Singaporean Core. Let me clarify that a Singaporean Core strategy is not a “Singaporeans only” strategy.
A “Singaporeans only” approach will be fatal for Singapore as a global financial center as there are simply not enough locals to meet the fast-expanding specialist needs of financial institutions. Rather, promoting a strong Singaporean Core is about building good skills and capabilities in our local workforce and ensuring fair hiring opportunities.
– Ravi Menon, managing director of MAS
In line with this, MAS is committed to grow a strong local talent pool while attracting high quality global talent.
Particularly, the three areas of local talent that MAS is stepping up efforts include polytechnic graduates; mid-career professionals from other sectors; and overseas Singaporeans working in finance and in technology.