Commercial Singapore banks offer universal banking services, such as provision of check services, taking deposits and lending. These Singapore banks also provide other services authorized by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which include insurance brokering, financial advisory services and capital market services. Since July 2001, commercial banks have not been allowed to undertake non-financial activities in Singapore.
Since 2001, the Singapore government has been giving increased liberties for foreign banks to operate in the country, to aid the consolidation of the local banking industry. The consolidation is aimed at creating larger banking conglomerates that can regionalize and compete with foreign banks in a better way. The number of local banks in Singapore is already reduced to five.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore reports that there was a rise in business loans in August 2009, driven by general commerce, storage, transport and communications. This, according to MAS, is a sign of recovery of the Singapore economy as a whole. Although the Singapore government is taking more risk-sharing initiatives to help Singapore banks and businesses, small and medium businesses are still cautious about getting loans Large corporations, however, are taking more loans.