Singapore - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Financing
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Methods of Payment

Singapore has a well-developed financial system that offers a full range of export finance instruments. Shipments are carried out using letters of credit and sight drafts (or bills of exchange), depending on the exporter’s preference and the extent of past dealings with the purchaser. Standard credit terms are generally 30 to 90 days based on market terms. 

Quotations are usually on a Cost Including Freight (CIF) basis. Quotes using United States dollars must be clear to avoid confusion with the Singapore dollar. Exporters making quotations in Singapore dollars should consult their banks for the prevailing exchange rate. Singapore uses the metric system, so it is beneficial for price/quantity quotations to follow this format. Credit rating agencies in Singapore include S&P Global Ratings, Moody’s, Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau, and Experian Credit Services Singapore. The primary credit or charge cards used in the country include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Diners.  For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide.

Banking Systems

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) performs all the functions of a central bank, including the issuance of currency. The unit of legal tender is the Singapore dollar. Besides regulating financial institutions, MAS has a Financial Sector Development Department that promotes new economic activities, develops IT infrastructure and workforce resources for the financial sector, and designs appropriate incentives to attract international financial firms to conduct activities in Singapore. 

MAS regulates financial institutions in the banking, capital markets, insurance, and payment sectors. Under the Banking Act, Singapore maintains legal distinctions between foreign and local banks and the type of license (i.e., full service, wholesale, offshore banks) held by foreign commercial banks.  

As of August 2023, 30 foreign full-service licensees and 97 wholesale banks operated in Singapore. An additional 22 merchant banks are licensed to conduct corporate finance, investment banking, and other fee-based activities. Offshore and wholesale banks cannot operate Singapore dollar retail banking activities. Only “Full” banks and “Qualifying Full Banks” (QFBs) can perform Singapore dollar retail banking activities but are subject to restrictions on their number of places of business, ATMs, and ATM networks. MAS may grant a subset of full banks additional QFB licenses, which provide greater branching privileges and greater access to the retail market than other full banks. 

The Banking Act 2020 removed the Domestic Banking Unit (DBU) from the Asian Currency Unit (ACU) divide. There was a consolidation of the regulatory framework of merchant banks, expansion of the grounds for revoking bank licenses and strengthening of the oversight of banks’ outsourcing arrangements.  

Through the Payment Services Bill of 2019, digital payment tokens, dealing in virtual currency, and merchant acquisition were licensed and regulated. The law limited the value of funds that can be held in or transferred out of a personal payment account (e.g., mobile wallets) in a year to reduce the risk of misuse for illicit purposes. Regulations were tailored to the type of activity performed and addressed issues related to terrorism financing, money laundering, and cyber threats.   

In 2019 MAS announced the digital bank framework, which enabled non-bank players with solid value propositions and innovative digital business models to offer digital banking services. Digital Full Banks (DFB) can provide various financial services and take deposits from retail customers. Digital Wholesale Bank (DWB) focuses on serving SMEs and non-retail segments. 

Singapore has no trading restrictions on foreign-owned stockbrokers. There is no cap on the aggregate investment by foreigners regarding the paid-up capital of dealers that are members of the SGX. Direct registration of foreign mutual funds is allowed, provided MAS approves the prospectus and the fund. The United States-Singapore FTA (USSFTA) relaxed conditions foreign asset managers must meet to offer products under the government-managed compulsory pension fund (Central Provident Fund Investment Scheme).  

Foreign Exchange Controls

The USSFTA commits Singapore to the free transfer of capital unimpeded by regulatory restrictions. Singapore places no restrictions on reinvestment or repatriation of earnings and capital and maintains no significant limits on remittances, foreign exchange transactions, and capital movements. 

U.S. Banks and Local Correspondent Banks:

Important United States banks operating in Singapore include Citibank, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, State Street Bank and Trust Company, The Northern Trust Company, and Wells Fargo Bank. The list of local and foreign banks can be found at

For additional information, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statements