Media Releases
Published Date: 04 December 2001

MAS Announces Results of 2nd Phase of Banking Liberalisation ProgrammeTwo Additional Foreign Banks named Qualifying Full Banks.16 Wholesale Banks announced.

4 December 2001.. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced today the award of additional Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) and Wholesale Banking (WB) privileges, which will take effect from 1 January 2002.

Additional Two Qualifying Full Banks (QFBs)

MAS will be awarding the QFB privileges to the following two foreign banks:

i) The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited; and
ii) Malayan Banking Berhad.

16 New Wholesale Banks (WBs)

MAS will be upgrading the existing eight Qualifying Offshore Banks (QOBs) to WB status:

i) The Bank of Nova Scotia;
ii) Credit Lyonnais;
iii) The Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank Limited;
iv) The Industrial Bank of Japan Ltd;
v) KBC Bank NV;
vi) National Australia Bank Ltd;
vii) Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale; and
viii) The Tokai Bank Limited.

MAS will also be awarding WB privileges to the following banks:

i) Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Limited;
ii) BNP Paribas Private Bank;
iii) Credit Suisse;
iv) ING Bank NV;
v) The Northern Trust Company;
vi) Sanpaolo IMI SPA;
vii) Unicredito Italiano SPA; and
viii) Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale.

MAS To Consider Further Banking Liberalisation Measures

MAS said that the extension of QFB privileges to two more banks, and WB privileges to 16 banks, is part of the ongoing liberalisation of the banking industry in Singapore.  MAS will progressively award WB privileges to all the remaining Offshore Banks, as well as to reputable new foreign bank entrants into the Singapore market.  MAS will also consider further steps to liberalise the retail banking sector, including extending QFB privileges to more foreign banks, in a phased manner. Its aim remains to promote keener competition, provide Singaporeans with higher quality banking services, and add to the depth and competitiveness of the financial sector. 

[Details of MAS' earlier announcements of the banking liberalisation package as well as MAS' evaluation criteria are appended at Annex 1.]

 Annex 1


Phase 1

MAS announced on 17 May 1999 a programme to liberalise commercial banking in Singapore.  This was aimed at promoting a more open and competitive environment and to spur the development and upgrading of local banks.  The programme included a package of new banking privileges and licences for foreign banks, to be granted over 3 years (1999-2001).  The new privileges and licences comprised:-

a) Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) privileges for up to 6 foreign banks;
b) Increasing the number of Restricted Bank (RB) licences from 13 to 18; and
c) Qualifying Offshore Bank (QOB) privileges for approved offshore banks.

Under the package, banks with QFB privileges would be allowed :

  Up to 10 locations (branches and off-premise ATMs) of which up to 5 can be branches.  No more than 2 new branches and 3 off-premise ATMs are to be set up each year following the issue of the QFB privileges.  QFBs which already have more than 5 branches would be capped at their present number, but would be allowed up to 5 off-premise ATMs;

  Free re-location of existing branches; and

  Sharing of ATMs amongst QFBs.

Offshore banks with QOB privileges would have their S$ lending limit raised to S$1 billion, from the present limit of S$300 million.  QOBs would also be allowed to accept S$ funds from non-bank customers through swap transactions.

The liberalisation measures were phased-in progressively to allow local banks time to upgrade themselves to meet the competition, and to maintain the stability of the financial system.

Phase 2

On 29 June 2001, MAS announced the second phase of banking liberalisation which included expanding the existing QFB privileges.  QFBs are now allowed to:

(a) Establish up to 15 locations, of which up to 10 can be branches.  The 15 locations can include both branches and off-site ATMs.  The sub-limit of 10 branches will include branches and limited-purpose branches;

(b) Share ATMs among themselves;

(c) Provide debit services through an EFTPOS network from 1 July 2002; and

(d) Provide Supplementary Retirement Scheme and CPF Investment Scheme accounts and accept CPF fixed deposits from 1 July 2002.

Further, the RB licence would be replaced by the WB licence to better reflect the wide range of activities that could be conducted.  WBs would have all the privileges currently enjoyed by RBs.

MAS would grant about 20 WB privileges over the next two years (2001 - 2002), with the eight QOBs given priority in upgrading.  Application for WB privileges would be opened to all existing Offshore Banks as well as to reputable new foreign bank entrants.  Banks would be admitted in priority of their financial strength and ability to contribute to Singapore's financial industry.  Over time, all QOBs and Offshore Banks would be upgraded to WB status.

Evaluation Criteria for QFB / WB Applications

MAS evaluated the applications using the following criteria:-

a) Prudential Considerations: MAS took into account the bank's financial position, its credit and support ratings, capital and global asset size, reputation and track record.

b) Contribution and Commitment to Singapore: MAS considered the bank's current scope of activities and future plans in Singapore.

Please refer to earlier announcements available on the MAS website at, for more information on the Banking Liberalisation Package:

*  17 May 99 "MAS Announces Programme To Liberalise Commercial Banking and Upgrade Local Banks" - Policy Statement by the MAS;

*  20 Oct 99 "MAS Announces Results of Foreign Bank Applications" - Press Statement;

*  29 Jun 01 "MAS Further Liberalises the Banking Industry" - Press Statement;

*  29 Jun 01 "Consolidation and Liberalisation : Building World-Class Banks" - Speech by DPM Lee Hsien Loong, Chairman MAS.