StanChart named Singapore's first significantly rooted foreign bank as MAS enhances scheme

SINGAPORE – The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Monday (Aug 3) named Standard Chartered Bank (Singapore) the first Significantly Rooted Foreign Bank (SRFB) here, allowing it to operate up to 50 places of business, double its current cap.

MAS also announced it will enhance the SRFB Framework so that in the future, an SRFB that “substantially exceeds the criteria for significant rootedness” in Singapore may be given extra privileges, including the ability to establish a separate subsidiary to develop alternative business models.

MAS said that uder the enhanced SRFB Framework, it will consider granting an additional full bank licence to an SRFB that substantially exceeds the baseline criteria.

“This will enable them to have the same flexibility as Singapore-incorporated banking groups to establish subsidiaries, including with joint-venture partners, to operate new or alternative business models such as a digital-only bank,” the regulator said in a media release.

The enhanced SRFB Framework will strengthen the ability of SRFBs to complement the local banks as anchors to Singapore’s financial system,” MAS added.

Under the SRFB Framework announced in 2012, Qualifying Full Banks (QFBs) that have become significantly rooted in Singapore are allowed to establish an additional 25 places of businesses, of which up to 10 may be branches. This is up from the 25 places of businesses or branches that QFBs are allowed to have.

SRFBs are only awarded as part of an overall package negotiated under free trade agreements (FTAs) with these banks’ home countries. To determine if a QFB is significantly rooted, MAS considers a range of qualitative and quantitative attributes, including the bank’s alignment of economic interests with Singapore, local business presence, and commitment to the Singapore’s financial stability and development in the long term.

Standard Chartered Bank Singapore CEO Patrick Lee on Monday welcomed the MAS announcement and said the bank “would review our strategy and development plans with a view to invest more and further deepen our presence in Singapore.”

Since 2018, to accelerate digitalisation and business growth,  StanChart has increased its headcount in Singapore from 8,000 to 10,000 – of which over 1,200 roles are in future growth areas such as digital banking, international banking, cyber, data solutions, analytics and cloud. 

Mr Lee said the bank will invest a further $5 million to boost talent development and reskilling in support of ongoing plans to grow the business and accelerate digitalisation.

He noted that as one of the oldest banks here, with a history of serving clients for over 160 years, StanChart “has remained steadfast in its commitment to Singapore”. In 2019, it became the first and only international bank to incorporate all its businesses in Singapore. It is also the largest foreign banking subsidiary here with a US$80 billion (S$110 billion) balance sheet backed by US$6 billion of capital.

“We are also the only international bank that has adopted Singapore as its global operational and innovation headquarters, with a significant share of our global management team based here,” Mr Lee added.

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