Media Releases
Published Date: 28 June 2019

MAS to Issue up to Five Digital Bank Licences

Singapore, 28 June 2019… The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced today that it will issue up to five new digital bank licences. This is in addition to any digital banks that the Singapore banking groups may also establish under the existing internet banking framework introduced in 2000.  The move announced today extends digital bank licences to non-bank players.
2     Announcing the measures at the 46th Annual Dinner of The Association of Banks in Singapore, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Chairman of MAS, said that “The new digital bank licences 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.”
3     The entry of new digital players will add diversity and help strengthen Singapore’s banking system in the digital economy of the future. With innovative business models and strong digital capabilities, these players can cater to under-served segments of the market.  They will provide impetus for existing banks to continue enhancing the quality of their digital offerings.
4     The five new digital bank licences will comprise –
(a) up to two digital full bank licences, which allow licensees to provide a wide range of financial services and take deposits from retail customers; and
(b) up to three digital wholesale bank licences, which allow licensees to serve SMEs and other non-retail segments.
5     Application for digital full bank licences is open to companies headquartered in Singapore and controlled by Singaporeans. Foreign companies are eligible for these full bank licences if they form a joint venture with a Singapore company, and the joint venture meets the headquarter and control requirements.  Application for digital wholesale bank licences is open to all companies.
6     Details of the eligibility criteria for digital full banks and digital wholesale banks are at Annex A and Annex B respectively. A summary of the progressive liberalisation of Singapore’s banking sector over the last 20 years is at Annex C.
7     MAS expects to invite applications in August 2019, and will provide more details on the eligibility and admission criteria at that time.


Notes to editor:
On 19 July 2000, MAS issued a policy statement to allow Singapore banking groups to set up digital bank subsidiaries. The banks can either set up the subsidiaries themselves, or with joint venture partners where the Singapore banks retain control. The minimum paid-up capital requirement of such banking subsidiaries is set at S$100 million, given that the parent banks have already met the S$1.5 billion capital requirement. For more details on the MAS Policy Statement on Internet Banking, please refer to this link.