Licensing or Approval for the Conduct of Banking Business

Admission Criteria
MAS' admission criteria apply across the board to all financial institutions engaged in banking activities.  In assessing an application for banking licence or to operate as a merchant bank, MAS takes into consideration, inter alia, the following factors:

  1. The financial soundness, track record, international standing and reputation of the applicant and its parent institution or major shareholders.  This includes, amongst others, an assessment of the ability of the applicant and its parent institution in meeting international capital requirements in accordance with the Basel Capital Adequacy Framework.  Ranking of the applicant and its parent institution in the world and home country in terms of total assets and capital strength will also be taken into consideration;
  2. The strength of the home country supervision and the willingness and ability of the home supervisory authority to cooperate with MAS.  This includes the supervision of the applicant and its parent institution by the home country supervisory authority on a consolidated basis in accordance with the principles in the Basel Concordat.  It also includes the legal and regulatory framework of the home authorities for cross-border crisis cooperation and coordination, and recovery and resolution planning.  The applicant must have written consent from its home country supervisory authority for the establishment of a banking operation in Singapore;
  3. A well-considered strategy in banking or financial services, supported by sound business plans which include a detailed assessment of the sustained economic viability as well as the nature and criticality of the business; and 
  4. Risk management systems and processes which are robust and commensurate with the size and complexity of its proposed business. 

For more information on MAS' admission policy and licensing/approval requirements for banks and merchant banks, please refer to the MAS Policy Statement on Internet Banking, Banking Act (Cap 19), Notices to Banks, Notices to Merchant Banks, and Directives to Merchant Banks.

For further clarification or enquiry on the licensing requirements, please contact

A bank representative office may carry out liaison work, market research or feasibility studies, but is not allowed to transact any business in Singapore.

For information on the establishment of bank representative offices, please refer to the Application Procedures to Set Up a Bank Representative Office.

Application Procedures

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact Banking Department of MAS at an early stage to discuss their plans prior to submitting a formal application. Preliminary consultation with a prospective applicant enables MAS to discuss the licensing requirements with the applicant and to identify issues that may have a significant bearing on the proposed application. All applications will be promptly processed by MAS. The processing time depends on the circumstances of each application and the completeness of information submitted by the applicant to MAS.

Please refer to the document below on the application to set up Wholesale Bank/Merchant Bank.

Key Resources

Last Modified on 06/05/2019