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Issue No 168

Are central banks issuing digital banking licences to counter the threat of fintechs and big techs?

In Asia Pacific, the first generation of internet and direct banks were introduced in Australia and Japan where ING Direct and Japan Net Bank were respectively launched in 2000. However, when mobile and API technology came of age, the landscape was transformed by Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent. WeBank, the digital banking subsidiary of Tencent started operating in China back in 2015. As more jurisdictions recognise that financial services will become increasingly digitalised, similar regulations have also been issued in Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. It is expected that more regulators in the region will follow suit as the interest in digital financial services grows as reflected in the funding attracted by players from the private sector and venture capitalists.


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