June 28, 2019

MAS published the eligibility criteria for licensing of digital full banks and digital wholesale banks in Singapore. MAS also announced that it will issue up to five new digital bank licenses that will comprise up to two digital full bank licenses and up to three digital wholesale bank licenses. The digital full bank license will allow licensees to provide a wide range of financial services and take deposits from retail customers while the digital wholesale bank license will allow licensees to serve small and medium enterprises and other non-retail segments. MAS expects to invite applications for licenses in August 2019.

Application for digital full bank licenses is open to companies headquartered in Singapore and controlled by Singaporeans. Foreign companies are eligible for the full bank licenses if they form a joint venture with a Singapore company and if that joint venture meets the headquarter and control requirements. Application for digital wholesale bank licenses is open to all companies. The new licenses are in addition to any digital banks that the Singapore banking groups may establish under the existing internet banking framework that was introduced in 2000. The move extends digital bank licenses to non-bank players as well. With innovative business models and strong digital capabilities, the digital players can cater to underserved segments of the market. They will provide impetus for existing banks to continue enhancing the quality of their digital offerings.

The entry of new digital players will add diversity and help strengthen the banking system of Singapore in the digital economy of the future. Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Chairman of MAS, announced these measures at the 46th Annual Dinner of The Association of Banks in Singapore and said that “The new digital bank licenses mark the next chapter in Singapore’s banking liberalisation journey. They will ensure that Singapore’s banking sector continues to be resilient, competitive, and vibrant.” MAS also published a summary of the progressive liberalization of banking sector in the country over the last 20 years. 

 

Keywords: Asia Pacific, Singapore, Banking, Speech, Bank Licenses, Fintech, Digital Banks, MAS

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