Singapore central bank mulls virtual banks

Published: May 07, 2019 19:09:38 | Updated: May 10, 2019 16:38:49

Singapore’s central bank said it is studying whether to allow financial technology firms to operate digital-only banks in the city-state, as regulators in other Asian markets begin issuing virtual banking licences.

Singapore is among several financial centres in the region, such as Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo, pushing to become a fintech hotspot. Measures in recent years include state funding, light-touch regulation and moves to allow start-ups to test financial products in a controlled environment.

“Technology and other non-bank firms have been making large digital strides, and they have brought substantive value to their customers in doing so. Some of these non-bank firms have established digital-only banks, either amongst themselves or in partnership with incumbent banks,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore said in response to a query from Reuters on Tuesday.

“MAS is studying whether to admit such digital-only banks with non-bank parentage.”

Singapore, a major global financial services hub, is home to three locally listed banks - DBS Group Holdings Ltd, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd and United Overseas Bank Ltd.

More than 200 banks have a presence in Singapore and a growing number have their operational headquarters in the city-state to service their regional group activities.

OCBC Group CEO Samuel Tsien cautioned against a one-size-fits-all approach by fintechs, reports Reuters.

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