Fintech startup Nium withdraws from Singapore's digital banking race

Singapore cross-border startup Instarem, which recently rebranded as Nium, has withdrawn from the contest for a digital wholesale banking license in the city state, doubling down on its global business-to-business payments instead.

Singaporean banks are extremely well entrenched in that ecosystem, Nium Chief Executive Officer Prajit Nanu said in an interview, referring to wholesale banking. Our strengths lie elsewhere and we have decided to consolidate and focus on those areas.

Backed by investors including Temasek Holdings Pte unit Vertex Ventures and Rocket Internet, Nium said it was interested in a license after the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced in July it will grant as many as two digital full-bank licenses and up to three digital wholesale bank licenses. Other companies that expressed a desire to apply included Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., Grab Holdings Inc. and Razer Inc. Nium is the first to declare its withdrawal.

Peer-to-peer lender Validus Capital Pte has agreed to join forces with Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., Vertex Ventures and Keppel Corp. to seek a local digital banking license before a year-end application deadline, Bloomberg News reported Monday.


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