Singapore will issue a digital banking licence at the end of this year

Since 2019, financial services have been further integrated with science and technology, especially in areas such as digital currency and open banking. Global fintech activities continue to develop rapidly, and the applications of big data, artificial intelligence, distributed bookkeeping and other technologies in the financial field are becoming more mature.

Singapore is well on its way to issuing digital banking licenses by the end of the year, despite tighter regulation of digital operators in both China and the US.

The so-called digital banking, also called digital banking, virtual banking or internet banking, is not a physical branch and ATM, trading online network conducted a business form. Singapore is moving towards a cashless society, but slowly, with many shops or consumption scenarios still requiring cash.

At about the same time as Hong Kong, Singapore is liberalising its “digital full bank” licences. Singapore has been experimenting with fintech innovations before, it includes digital currency, cryptocurrency and the underlying implementation of blockchain technology.

As the fifth largest financial center in the world, Singapore is now enriching its digital financial ecosystem by issuing digital banking licenses, formulating development plans and implementing digital payment laws and regulations, striving to become a global digital financial center in the coming digital economy era.


The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is Singapore’s central bank and integrated financial regulator. As a central bank,MAS promotes non-inflationary economic growth through monetary and macroeconomic surveillance and analysis. Ravi Menon, director general of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said in an earlier interview with Bloomberg TELEVISION: “Local digital Banks will not be affected by the Chinese authorities’ tightening of regulations on digital financiers. “Our job is not to speculate on geopolitical developments and what other countries might do against certain digital players.

Ravi Menon points out that Singapore’s requirements for digital banking license applicants include the ability to provide good service, adequate risk management and a smooth exit strategy.

Singapore’s authorities are expected to issue up to five pure digital banking licences by the end of the year.

It is expected that the digital banking licences issued by The Singapore Monetary Authority fall into two broad categories, one being the All Digital Banking Licence (DFB), the other the Wholesale Banking Licence (DWB) and the other being the planned issue of three.

As early as 18 June 2020, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced that 14 of the 21 companies applying for virtual banking licences had met the criteria and would be subject to the next stage of assessment. The 14 companies include five complete digital banking licence applicants and nine digital wholesale banking licence applicants. Well-known Chinese companies include Ant Group, Xiaomi and Bytedance. The Chinese companies want to expand their broad business from services to Singapore’s banking sector and take a share of the Southeast Asian market.

There are differences in the way digital Banks are licensed in different markets, but overall, financial regulators believe digital Banks have the potential to bring better services to customers by extending banking services to those who have not been served or are underserved, driving innovation and increasing competition in the market.

As early as 2000, the Singapore Monetary Authority introduced the Internet Banking Framework, which allows bankers to offer various forms of digital banking, with the participation of DBS, UOB, OCBC, Citibank and Standard Chartered.

However,according to local media reports, Singapore now has more than 200 Banks, and three local Banks — DBS, Huaqiao and DAhua — have more than half the market share, making the banking sector nearly saturated.

In the context of global integration, why is Singapore so attractive to most tech giants, simply put, Singapore’s strategic location, advanced financial system, and legal protection of intellectual property rights in the current climate of geopolitical tensions make it a regional and even global center of Asia for industry giants.

Sources: Lianhe Zaobao and other media