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Grab is exploring the idea of becoming a virtual bank

7 years ago, Grab began as a ride-hailing company, with its sights set on direct competitors Uber. Having dominated the region over the last couple of years or so, they have been aggressively expanding into fintech, food delivery—and they aren’t slowing down.

Reuters reports that Grab is looking to get into digital banking as regulators in Singapore are considering allowing for online-only banks in the country. According to sources, Grab is considering working with a consultancy to help gear themselves up for a foray into the digital-only banking industry.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), when questioned by Reuters, remained tight-lipped on the matter. However, MAS has conceded that they are looking into the potential and possibility of “digital-only banks with non-bank parentage.”

Further, only 2-3 of these licenses are expected to be issued within the first phase, even if such a move is green-lit.

And they’re not the only ones

Fintech companies like BigPay are also seemingly headed in the direction of digital banks, with the AirAsia owned startup moving towards features such as remittance and FOREX options.

In fact, this isn’t the first time that Grab has dipped a toe in the financial services sector. Previously, a partnership was formed with Japanese credit card company Credit Saison Co Ltd to provide lending and loan services to its wide customer base.

In fact, Singtel is also reportedly thinking of making a similar move. The Singaporean telco giant has been moving beyond its traditional repertoire of carrier services into areas like mobile payments and cybersecurity.

What about Malaysia?

Similar moves have been made in the region, including Hong Kong. As such, it could be argued that similar movement could be made in Malaysia—earlier this year, Grab signaled their fintech-based intentions with an agreement with Maybank in Malaysia.

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