Commercial Banks

Commercial banks in Singapore are licensed under and governed by the Banking Act. They may undertake universal banking. Besides commercial banking, which includes deposit taking, the provision of cheque services and lending, the banks may also carry out any other businesses which are regulated or authorised by MAS, including financial advisory services, insurance broking and capital market services. Banks are however prohibited from engaging in non-financial activities. (Section 30 of the Banking Act defines the permissible activities).

Commercial banks and their representatives do not have to be separately licensed to carry out such activities, but must comply with the business conduct requirements prescribed in the Financial Advisers Act (FAA)Insurance Act (IA) and Securities and Futures Act (SFA) accordingly.

Commercial banks operate as full banks, wholesale banks or offshore banks. For the latest number of commercial banks in Singapore, please refer to this link to the Financial Institutions Directory.

Full Banks

Full banks may provide the whole range of banking business permitted under the Banking Act.

Foreign full banks with Qualifying Full Bank (“QFB”) privileges may operate a total of 25 locations. They may also

  • Share ATMs among themselves, and relocate their sub-branches freely. 
  • Negotiate with the local banks on a commercial basis to let their credit card holders obtain cash advances through the local bank's ATM networks. 
  • Provide debit services through an EFTPOS network, 
  • Offer Supplementary Retirement Scheme and CPF Investment Scheme accounts, and 
  • Accept fixed deposits under the CPF Investment Scheme and Minimum Sum Scheme

Wholesale Banks

Wholesale banks may engage in the same range of banking business as full banks, except that they do not carry out Singapore Dollar retail banking activities. They operate within the Guidelines for Operations of Wholesale Banks issued by MAS

Offshore Banks

Offshore banks can engage in the same activities as full and wholesale banks for businesses transacted through their Asian Currency Units (ACUs). The ACU is an accounting unit, which the banks use to book all their foreign currency transactions conducted in the Asian Dollar Market (ADM). The banks' Singapore dollar transactions are separately booked in the Domestic Banking Unit (DBU).

For further information on these two accounting units of banks in Singapore, please refer to the section on Asian Dollar Market.

Offshore banks operate within the Guidelines for Offshore Banks issued by MAS

Last Modified on 28/05/2013