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Standard Chartered Plc announced a 10-year fintech partnership with Singapore-based Atome Financial on Wednesday to help it grab a piece of the booming buy now, pay later market in Asia that has thrived during the pandemic. Standard Chartered, the first major bank to unveil a significant foray in the sector in Asia, is making an undisclosed equity investment in Atome Financial, which operates the Atome platform in markets including Southeast Asia, and Indonesian digital lending platform Kredit Pintar. "This marks one of Standard Chartered's largest strategic investments in a fintech to-date and supports its ambition to expand its reach and scale within the mass market segment via a digital-first approach, underpinned by digital acquisition and new partnership models," a joint statement said.
Singapore's central bank said on Friday it would create a digital platform enabling banks to share information on customers and transactions, part of efforts to prevent money laundering and financing of criminal activity. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a statement that it plans to launch the platform in the first half of 2023 and make it available to the city-state's six biggest commercial banks in the initial phase. Financial and trade hubs like Singapore are particularly vulnerable to money laundering due to large cross-border flows.
Focus turns to whether the banks will sustain the growth, especially in the absence of government support.