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Business Banking


Most banks in Singapore cater to different types of clients – individuals, corporations or government agencies. These banks provide commercial banking (catering to businesses and corporations), retail banking (catering to individual members of the public) and private banking (catering to HNWIs) services. Banks can be classified into 2 main categories:

  • Local Banks (6)
  • Foreign Banks(108) – further sub divided into
    • Full Banks (26) – provide the whole range of banking business approved under the Banking Act. Six of the foreign banks operating in Singapore have been awarded Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) privileges. These banks include: HSBC, Citibank, Standard Chartered, Maybank, ABN AMRO and BNP Paribas.
    • Wholesale Banks (42) – engage in the same range of banking activities as full banks, except Singapore Dollar retail banking activities. All wholesale banks in Singapore, operate as branches of foreign banks. Examples: ING bank, National Australia Bank, Barclays Bank, Fortis Bank, Deutsche Bank etc.
    • Offshore Banks (40) – engage in the same activities as full and wholesale banks for businesses transacted through their Asian Currency Units (an accounting unit, which banks use to book all foreign currency transactions conducted in the Asian Dollar Market). The banks’ Singapore dollar transactions are separately booked in the Domestic Banking Unit (DBU). All offshore banks in Singapore, operate as branches of foreign banks. Examples: ICICI Bank Ltd, Korea Development Bank, Bank of Taiwan, Bank of New Zealand, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce etc.
    • Merchant banks (50) – provide corporate finance, underwriting of share and bond issues, mergers and acquisitions, portfolio investment management, management consultancy and other fee-based activities. Most merchant banks have, with MAS’ approval, established ACUs, through which they compete with commercial banks in the Asian Dollar Market. In their DBU, they may accept deposits or borrow only from banks, finance companies, shareholders and companies controlled by their shareholders. Examples: Credit Suisse Singapore Ltd, Barclays Merchant Bank Singapore Ltd, ANZ Singapore Ltd, Axis Bank Ltd etc.

Major Banks in Singapore

Major local banks

  1. DBS (Development Bank of Singapore) established in 1968, is considered the largest bank in Singapore and Southeast Asia, as measured by assets. It is a leading consumer bank in Singapore and Hong Kong, serving over 4 million and 1 million retail customers respectively. It also has the largest retail network in Singapore, with 80 branches at present. It ranked 14th in The Banker’s “Top 200 Asian Banks 2008″.
  2. OCBC (Oversea Chinese Banking Corporation) established in 1912, is one of the largest financial institutions in the Singapore-Malaysia market with total assets of S$184 billion. It ranked 1st in “Top 5 Regional Banks”, Asia Risk End-User Survey 2008.
  3. UOB (United Overseas Bank) established in 1935, is a leading bank in Singapore with a strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region. As at 31 December 2007, the UOB Group had total assets of S$175.0 billion. It was awarded the “Best Overall Fund Group in Singapore” during The Edge-Lipper Singapore Fund Awards 2008.

Major foreign banks

  1. HSBC – In Singapore, The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited first opened its doors in December 1877. HSBC is an approved Primary Dealer in the Singapore Government Securities Market and an Approved Bond Intermediary (ABI). It is a QFB honoured with 33 awards at Global Finance Awards 2006 by Global Finance.
  2. Standard Chartered – Standard Chartered’s Singapore operations began in 1859 and today boasts of a largest branch network (20) among international banks in the Republic. It is the Group’s second largest consumer banking market and was awarded a Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) licence in 1999. It is the largest custodian bank in Singapore for foreign institutions, rated top for the past seven years in Global Custodian’s Agent Bank Survey.
  3. ABN-AMRO Singapore – ABN AMRO is now owned by RBS, Santander and the Dutch government. Its various businesses around the globe are currently being separated from ABN AMRO and integrated in line with each owner’s plans.
  4. Maybank – Maybank’s presence in Singapore began in 1960 as a full-licensed commercial bank. Maybank is currently among the top five banks in ASEAN and is a Qualifying Full Bank in Singapore. As of June 2008, Maybank’s total assets amounted to S$22.7 billion in Singapore.
  5. BNP Paribas – BNP Paribas has been at the forefront of banking in Singapore since 1968 and was awarded a QFB status in 1999. Today, BNP Paribas Singapore assumes a prominent presence in the region by acting as the Group’s regional hub for its business in Corporate and Investment Banking as well as Private Banking.
  6. Citibank – Citibank was the first American bank to set up a branch in Singapore in 1902. Although a relative latecomer to the retail-banking sector, the bank has grown into a formidable market player with major market share in key businesses including unsecured lending, deposits and investments and secured assets. Citibank was among the first four foreign banks to be awarded the Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) license in 1999.