Jack Ma's Ant Group launches digital bank in Singapore

Ant Group, the company behind China's largest digital payment platform Alipay, has launched a neobank in Singapore. 

Named Anext Bank, it will target small and medium enterprises (SMEs), it said in a statement today. It has also formed a partnership with trading platform Proxtera to provide financial solutions for SMEs looking to participate in overseas trade. 

"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 Bank CEO Toh Su Mei said in the statement.

The bank, currently in soft launch, will offer a dual-currency business account with features such as remote onboarding and daily interest. This will be made widely available from the third quarter of this year. 

The news follows a similar move in Hong Kong where, in 2020, Ant Group launched consumer-focused fintech Ant Bank after procuring a virtual banking license with the regulatory authorities. 

Ant Group is controlled by billionaire Jack Ma and about a third owned by ecommerce giant Alibaba. In 2020, it had planned to raise about $35 billion in what would have been the biggest ever initial public offering — before Chinese regulators derailed those plans.