New Digital Bank Licences in Singapore

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced that it will issue up to 5 new digital bank licences comprising 2 digital full bank licences (permitted to deal with retail clients) and 3 digital wholesale bank licences (permitted to deal with SMEs and non-retail clients). MAS is working on implementation details and expects to invite applications in August 2019.

The 5 new licences will be available to digital players who demonstrate an innovative and sustainable business model even if they have yet to establish a track record in banking – a strong move welcoming non-bank players to become digital banks in Singapore. This marks an addition to MAS’ existing regime which for more than two decades already allowed local banking groups to set up standalone digital banks under MAS’ internet-only bank framework.

In this client alert, we provide an overview of the new licensing framework, as well as commentary on similar developments in Hong Kong.