SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s central bank said on Friday it would offer up to five digital bank licences to suitable applicants, in a move that could deliver the biggest shake-up in two decades in a market dominated by local banks.
“The new digital bank licences mark the next chapter in Singapore’s banking liberalisation journey,” said Tharman Shanmugaratnam , senior minister and chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
“We welcome firms with innovative value propositions to apply for the digital bank licences, even if they have not yet established a track record in banking,” Shanmugaratnam said at an annual event of the Association of Banks in Singapore.
The MAS said in a statement that it will issue up to two full digital bank licences to companies headquartered in Singapore and controlled by Singaporeans.
Foreign firms are eligible for these licences if they form a joint venture with a Singapore company, and the venture meets the headquarter and control requirements.
It expects to invite applications in August.
The MAS said it will also issue up to three digital wholesale bank licences which will be open to both local and foreign players.
Singapore’s local banking market is dominated by DBS Group Holdings Ltd <DBSM.SI>, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp <OCBC.SI> and United Overseas Bank Ltd <UOBH.SI>.
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Edmund Blair and Jan Harvey)