Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced the winners of the country’s first digital bank licences on Friday, after Asia markets closed, and before the annual Singapore Fintech Festival next week.

The two digital full bank licences went, as everyone had expected, to the Grab/Singtel consortium and Sea group. I am sure nobody was surprised that Ant Group scooped up one of the digital wholesale bank licences.

Greenland the SOE

The other digital wholesale bank licence winner, a consortium led by Greenland Financial Holdings Group, probably took many by surprise. It beat other contenders more known in Singapore, including locally listed iFast, Hong Kong-based PR machine AMTD, and ByteDance.

Its parent company, Greenland Holdings, is a familiar name in China. It also has a pretty comprehensive introduction on Wikipedia. The real estate developer-turned-conglomerate was established by Shanghai Municipal Government in 1992, with a modest capital of renminbi 20 million. (Yes it is an SOE).

Greenland’s current  market cap (SSE: 600606) is close to renminbi 80 billion (US$12 billion).

Fortune China ranks Greenland as the 21st amongst its list of 500 companies in China, measured by revenue. Of course, as an asset-heavy business, Greenland’s P/E ratio is a modest 5.27.

While its logo (above) clearly indicates the group’s roots in property development, it has diversified into many areas including property management, automobile, engineering and construction, and financial services, amongst others.

In financial services, Greenland Financial was started in 2011, and has expanded into securities, wealth management, investment and fintech.

As of end of 2019, the company owned a securities firm in Hong Kong, a domestic leasing company, two financial asset exchanges, four regional microloan companies, an internet-based micro loan company, a third-party payment company, and six PE management firms. It managed assets of more than renminbi 100 billion.

The president and CEO of Greenland Financial, Dr Geng Jing, has been a career financier for more than 20 years. Currently, Greenland Financial is preparing for a separate stock listing. The high leverage of the group’s real estate developing business has been a concern.

It is a well-experienced, well-capitalised company in supply chain financing. While the credentials are there, albeit less known to the outside world, how it managed to beat the other, more well-known companies?

The answer can only be found on the applications from the other consortia.

Anyway, it is just the start of an interesting ride.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at hello@mworks.asia.