Singapore’s central bank opened applications for digital banking licences to companies outside of the financial services sector, with Grab and Singtel among those expected to apply.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore will issue two full digital banking licences and three wholesale ones, with companies having until the end of 2019 to apply. It expects to announce the successful applicants in mid-2020 and services to be launched during 2021.

Full digital banks will be permitted to provide a wide range of financial services to retail and non-retail customers whereas wholesale providers will focus on the SME and other non-retail segments.

In a statement, the organisation said the new addition of new players would ensure “Singapore’s banking sector continues to be resilient, competitive and vibrant”.

To be eligible for a full licence the company must be headquartered in Singapore and controlled by Singapore nationals.

All applicants must meet a range of criteria around minimum capital requirements, provable business track records, solid business plans and have “fit and proper shareholders, directors and management”.

Grab and Singtel were among the companies expected to apply, according to local media.