Parliamentary Replies
Published Date: 11 September 2017

Reply to Parliamentary Question on accessibility to banking and payment services




Date: For Parliament Sitting on 11 September 2017

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Tin Pei Ling, MP, MacPherson SMC


To ask the Prime Minister (a) what is the number of Singaporeans who do not have a bank account, broken down by age group; and (b) what is the number of Singaporeans who do not have ATM, debit or credit cards, broken down by age group.

Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:

1   A high proportion of Singaporeans have bank accounts. While we do not have the exact numbers, based on the 2014 World Bank Global Findex survey, 96% of Singapore residents above the age of 15 have bank accounts.  The figure would be higher for adults. Another source of information comes from the GST Voucher Scheme. About 40,000 Singaporeans have encashed the cheques they receive under the scheme, which could be because they do not have bank accounts. 

2   About 80% of local banks’ customers hold either an ATM, debit or credit card. Within this group, more than 90% of customers aged between 16 and 59 hold a card; for customers aged 60 and above, the percentage is 70%. Those who are under the age of 16 generally do not hold cards. This is is not surprising, given that child accounts are normally set up to accumulate savings and not for transactional purposes. Parents can, however, apply for ATM or debit cards for their children, and set the appropriate withdrawal and spending limits for their children. 

3   To ensure that Singaporeans have access to affordable and convenient basic banking services, major retail banks in Singapore already offer Basic Banking Accounts and these have been available since 2002. Such accounts, which generally come with ATM/debit card and internet banking services, can be maintained at very low cost. In fact, some banks provide the service free for school-going children and the elderly by waiving the account service fees.

4   MAS is also working with the industry and retail merchants to develop and promote new electronic payment options that are widely accepted and convenient to use, and which may not require the user to have a bank account or bank card. These include electronic wallets that can be downloaded to everyone’s mobile phones easily, and wearable devices that operate similarly like wallets and can be topped up by family members conveniently. An example is the POSB Smart Buddy, which is a watch that children can use to buy food at school canteens. A similar device can be developed and customised for use by the elderly.

5   We will continue to monitor accessibility to banking and payment services, and work with the industry to ensure that Singaporeans’ needs can be most conveniently met.