AMTD, a Hong Kong based investment bank backed by Li Ka-shing, has been a very active player in Singapore this year.
It has applied for Singapore’s digital wholesale banking licence, leading a consortium whose members include SP Group, Xiaomi Finance and Funding Societies.
Its fintech arm, AMTD Digital, has acquired controlling stakes of insurance broker PolicyPal, ‘blockchain-powered’ private securities exchange Capbridge, as well as remittance and payment acquiring service FomoPay.
PolicyPal and FomoPay had been struggling for a while, and AMTD’s timely acquisition gave it access to a number of key brokerage licences at probably very attractive price points.
AMTD’s ambition, as well as its ingenuity, does not stop there.
Under covid-19 pandemic, many fintech companies, including those providing technical solutions as well as those issuing loans, are facing a hard time.
Working with Singapore’s Monetary Authority (MAS) as well as the country’s Fintech Association (SFA), AMTD launched MAS-SFA-AMTD Fintech Solidarity Grant.
Entrepreneurs in Singapore can’t be more familiar with ‘grant’, issued by various government schemes to help startups grow, or as some might argue, artificially keep unworthy startups alive.
Anyway, the S$6 million (US$4.32 million) MAS-SFA-AMTD Fintech Solidarity Grant will “help the FinTechs manage their cashflow better, support them in generating new businesses, and provide greater support for FinTechs to pursue growth strategies”.
To quality, fintech startups need to meet the following criteria:
- Be registered and in operation in Singapore for at least 3 months before grant application
- Have at least 2 or more core activities in Singapore
- Be an SFA member with a valid SFA Fintech Certification
- FinTechs must register and complete their profile on APIX, as well as carry out their POCs with any ASEAN based Financial Institution on APIX to be eligible for this grant
- Only 1 application per POC is allowed per company or Group of related companies.
- Each Company or Group of related companies is allowed to submit up to 5 BGG applications for 5 different POCs
- Applicants must use the SFA Jobs Portal to advertise the internship opportunities, but are free to use other advertising channels as well
- All Qualifying expenses for the application must be related to the POC on APIX.
Nothing out of the ordinary – the masterstroke, however, is in the documents required:
Give and take?
A number of my friends have made the application – truly be told, who wouldn’t want free money with very few strings attached, especially in this difficult period?
After submitting the documents, results very quickly came back – the few I know got between S$3,000 to S$10,000k grant. Lower than expected – but because probably many have been applying, not bad still?
However, the deal is even better for AMTD who, without spending too much money, achieved a number of objectives:
1) making themselves really known to everyone in (or related to) fintech in Singapore;
2) building a real good reputation in the eyes of the government for supporting Singapore’s fintech ecosystem, and;
3) accessing real business and performance data of all the participating fintech companies;
By all means, this is money well spent, and a masterstroke killing many birds with one stone.
Would that increase their odds of getting a wholesale digital bank license?