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Banking Industry and Major Banks in Singapore

Singapore is a flourishing financial centre of international repute servicing not only its domestic economy per se but also the entire Asia Pacific region. The banking industry is a key player in the country’s financial market segment, soon emerging as one of the strongest in the world. Factors such as a sound economic and political environment, conducive legal and tax policies, reputation for integrity, and strict enforcement against crime and money laundering, have contributed to Singapore’s status as an International Finance Centre – the third largest in Asia, after Japan and Hong Kong. Today there are as many as 117 foreign banks and 6 local banks that dominate the banking scene.

Factors that have contributed to the success of the banking industry in Singapore include:

  • Liberalisation of the domestic banking market.
  • Local banks strengthened their regional presence through mergers and acquisitions.
  • Expansion of foreign banks, some of which made Singapore a regional or even global platform for important banking services, which in turn led to increased competitiveness.
  • Increased competition spurred the development of innovative products and more competitive pricing models.
  • Provision of sophisticated banking services like corporate and investment banking activities, apart from traditional lending and deposit-taking functions.
  • Strict banking secrecy laws, tax friendly policies and a suite of wealth management services created a private banking boom. Swiss giants Credit Suisse Group and UBS AG have expanded private-banking operations in Singapore to cater to new demand from Asians and Europeans.
  • Recognising and catering to the needs of Small and Medium Enterprises who comprise a sizable banking market in Singapore.

This guide provides an overview of the banking industry in Singapore focusing on the key trends, the major domestic and international players and the services they offer, the role of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and banking regulations that govern the industry today.

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