The importance of Singapore as a global financial domain

The acquisition of an SPI license and inclusion in the registry of payment institutions in Singapore illustrate pivotal milestones for enterprises aspiring to embed themselves within the financial echelons of this nation, widely renowned as a premier global financial hub. This procedural journey not only affords ingress into a cutting-edge and innovative economy but also facilitates integration into a marketplace distinguished by a paramount level of regulatory trust and endorsement.

Due to its strategically advantageous positioning in Asia, advanced technologies, and stable political climate, Singapore assumes a pivotal role on the international financial stage. These facets, coupled with an enticing fiscal policy and innovation support, render the nation a magnet for fostering fintech initiatives and payment systems.

For a successful SPI license acquisition and registration as a payment service in Singapore you mandate a profound comprehension of local regulatory requisites and law, notably the payment services legislation, delineating the protocols for performing payment activities. Prospective candidates should stick rigorously to rigorous standards, encompassing the maintenance of adequate statutory capital and the appointment of a local director, underscoring Singapore's stringent regulatory approach to the monetary sphere.

The process of receiving an SPI license and registering as a payment institution not just unlocks avenues for conducting business within the jurisdiction but also serves as a testament to the company's high operational protocols, bolstering trust among clients and business associates. This fortifies Singapore's position as a place of pecuniary innovation, attracting capital and professionals from across the globe, thus amplifying its allure as a global monetary hub.

Thus, Singapore continues to fortify its standing as a global monetary epicenter, with the acquisition of an SPI license in Singapore and the establishment of a payment institution furnishing enterprises with the key to international finance and innovation, laying the groundwork for their global expansion and advancement.

Definition of SPI and MPI licenses

In the realm of pecuniary services governance in Singapore, a thorough understanding of SPI and MPI licenses is essential for the establishment and functioning of payment entities. These licenses, namely the Standard Payment Institution (SPI) and Major Payment Institution (MPI), constitute fundamental authorizations mandated by the Payment Services Act (PSA), overseeing the facilitation of payment transactions within the nation's domain.

To render payment services within Singapore, accreditation of one of these licenses is requisite, with the selection contingent upon the company's transactional volume. The SPI license suits enterprises handling payments up to 3 million SGD per month for a single service or up to 6 million SGD across multiple services, rendering it an optimal choice for small to medium-scale businesses. In contrast, the MPI license, unencumbered by specific transactional thresholds unlike the SPI, affords broader operational latitude while mandating rigorous compliance with enhanced capital, risk assessment, and corporate governance requirements.

The choice between SPI and MPI should hinge upon factors such as the company's strategic objectives, anticipated transactional volume, and the specificity of the payment services supplied. Both types of licenses entail distinct responsibilities, underscoring the imperative for meticulous analysis and strategic planning before commencing the enrollment process.

Guaranteeing the successful accreditation of a payment institution in Singapore necessitates possessing profound knowledge into the regulatory directives and stipulations set forth by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). This enables guaranteeing the company's adherence to juridical mandates, fostering its prosperity within Singapore's highly competitive financial marketplace.

Payment Services Act (PSA) and its role in regulating payment services

The enactment of the Payment Services Act (PSA) played a pivotal role in modernizing the registration and oversight framework for payment entities in Singapore, serving as the cornerstone for regulating the payments sector. The PSA was crafted with the aim of enhancing financial steadiness and safeguarding user interests, establishing parameters for the diversity of payment services, encompassing fund transfers, electronic money issuance, and cryptocurrency transactions.

The distinguishing characteristic of the PSA resides in its flexibility to accommodate the spectrum of payment services, categorizing licensing tiers according to operational scope and service diversity. To partake in payment activities within Singapore, securing one of three licenses is mandatory: the Standard Payment Institution (SPI) license, the Major Payment Institution (MPI) license, or the Money-Changing Operations license. This grants the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) the agility to customize regulatory frameworks while simultaneously upholding consumer safeguards.

The legislation also underscores the imperative of adhering to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) measures, obligating payment institutions to implement robust internal control mechanisms. This is aimed at ensuring transactional transparency and thwarting the illicit exploitation of the payment system.

PSA also facilitates streamlining of payment business operations, furnishing a clear legal framework for the deployment of innovative monetary technologies, thereby engendering conducive environments for the development of fintech enterprises and fortifying Singapore's positioning as a world financial hub.

Requirements for obtaining a license

Providing financial activities in Singapore necessitates adherence to a comprehensive set of criteria outlined by regulatory bodies. These criteria are subdivided into foundational, pertaining to the organization and management of the company, and ancillary, aimed at ensuring transactional security and consumer rights protection.

Fundamental criteria:

The incorporation of a local legal entity serves as a preliminary prerequisite for commencing business operations and applying for a license in Singapore. International enterprises must incorporate their representation or subsidiary in the country, enabling them to operate in compliance with local legislation and under the oversight of regulators.

The designation of a resident director stands as an obligatory stipulation. It mandates that at least one director possesses permanent resident status or citizenship in Singapore. This provision ensures the presence of an accountable figure supervising the company's operations within the nation, thereby facilitating engagement with regulatory bodies and tax authorities.

The minimum paid-up capital is critical and varies depending on the type of license and the company's operations but must not be less than 1 dollar. This ensures the financial preparedness of the company for commencing operations, providing the ability to cover potential losses or fines.

Obtaining a license to do business in Singapore demands not only meeting foundational requirements concerning establishment and enterprise structure but also adhering to supplementary norms aimed at upholding safety and stability in the financial realm. These regulatory measures foster the maintenance of a high level of trust in Singapore's financial sector and catalyze its innovative advancement.

Process of registering a payment institution and receiving a license

The company enrollment process in Singapore and the application for a license entail a series of steps requiring meticulous preparation and strategic planning. While precise timelines and costs may vary depending on the company's field of activity and the type of license sought, let's provide a brief overview of the procedure for obtaining a business license:

  • Document arrangement: the initial step involves determining the necessity of obtaining a specific type of license and gathering all required documentation. This phase typically encompasses providing information about the legal entity, confirming the identity and address of the company's founders and directors, a detailed business plan, as well as any other documents validating compliance with specific standards and requirements for getting the desired license.
  • Submission of the application: armed with the necessary documentation, the business can proceed to submit its application for the license. This process often entails completing detailed application forms and submitting them along with all required documents to the relevant governmental or regulatory body. In Singapore, many of these processes have been streamlined and can be conducted online through various government portals.
  • Review and approval process: following the submission of the application, it undergoes scrutiny, wherein the regulatory body assesses its alignment with legal and regulatory frameworks. At this stage, inspections or additional inquiries from the regulator to the applicant may also be conducted.
  • License issuance: upon successful review and adherence with all regulatory requirements, the license will be granted. The business can then lawfully commence operations in accordance with the terms of the license.

Time frames and costs for obtaining a license:

  • Timeline: the timeframe for reviewing license applications in Singapore may fluctuate considerably based on the nature of the license sought and the adequacy of the accompanying documentation. Certain licenses may be granted expeditiously within weeks, whereas securing others could entail a process spanning several months.
  • Cost: the fee for obtaining a license also varies and depends on the specific type of license. It includes application fees and, in some cases, annual dues or other payments to maintain license status. Additionally, there may be additional expenses for legal or consultancy services to successfully navigate the license acquisition process.

The procedure of registering a company and obtaining licenses in Singapore requires a thorough approach and careful attention to the intricacies of regulatory prerequisites. A pivotal aspect for enterprises entails thorough scrutiny of all norms and rules pertinent to their operations, ensuring full compliance to facilitate seamless license acquisition. For up-to-date and accurate information, it is recommended to directly consult Singapore's regulatory authorities or visit their official online resources.

Additional features and services

Connecting acquiring, preparing a business plan

Establishing a business in Singapore necessitates profound planning and traversing through several pivotal stages, including setting up an electronic payment reception system, which is integral for companies aiming to serve clients through digital payment channels. Acquiring transaction processing services (acquiring) enables enterprises to accept card payments, which is paramount for meeting the demands of the modern market.

To activate acquiring services, companies must select a bank or payment system provider providing such services within Singapore's jurisdiction. This step entails entering into a service agreement, necessitating the company to provide a detailed description of its activities and undergo regulatory conformance checks. It is also crucial to determine the tariff plan that aligns with the volumes and specifics of the business transactions.

The elaboration of a business plan is yet another foundational step for aspiring entrepreneurs in Singapore. Acting as a roadmap to goal achievement, the business plan delineates strategies for implementation, analyzes risks, and identifies prospect opportunities. This document is crucial for internal planning as well as for attracting financing and loans.

The business strategy should encompass a description of the offering, market analysis, marketing plans, composition of the directorate, monetary plans, and forecasts. It should demonstrate a profound understanding of the market situation and a clear action plan to achieve the set objectives.

Equally, crucial is to tackle the legal facets of embarking on a business venture in Singapore, encompassing enterprise incorporation, tax strategizing, and adherence to statutory mandates. This fosters the seamless functioning of the enterprise and alleviates the perils of discord with regulatory bodies.

The successful launch of a business in Singapore entails comprehensive planning and preparation, along with adaptation to local market conditions. Having an effective business plan and acquiring system is pivotal for success. Moreover, adhering to all regulatory and juridical conditions plays a key role in fostering the long-term development and growth of the company in the Singaporean market.

Legal support and individual consulting

The enrollment of an entity in Singapore entails a process that demands careful analysis of different licit and supervisory nuances. This step extends beyond mere formalities; it lays the foundation for the future development and stability of your enterprise. The importance of legal assistance and personalized consultancy in this process cannot be overstated, as they ensure compliance with all procedures in conformance with domestic legislative requirements.

The selection of a legitimate entity type, whether it be a Private Limited Company or a public joint-stock company, constitutes the initial stage where legal experts can propose the most fitting option based on your business goals, administrative structure, and tax planning strategies.

Throughout the company registration procedure in Singapore, meticulous preparation and filing of vital paperwork such as the corporate charter and articles of association are imperative. Legal assistance guarantees the precise formulation of all paperwork, faithful representation of the business framework, and adherence to Singaporean statutory regulations.

Personalized consulting provides entrepreneurs with a profound understanding of the subtleties of the Singaporean business climate, including the tax system, accounting practices, and employment legislation. Consultants can offer recommendations for tax optimization and effective risk management.

Given the intricacies of licensing for certain activities in Singapore, consulting services can significantly streamline the process of obtaining all necessary permits, minimizing the risks of delays.

Thus, enrolling a company in Singapore demands a profound understanding of all legal and regulatory aspects. Legal support and specialized consultancy not only facilitate this process but also prevent potential errors that could lead to delays or legal problems in the future.

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List of activities that require an SPI license in Singapore

For every of the specified activities falling under the scope of a Standard Payment Institution (SPI) license in Singapore, there are specific threshold values and requirements regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Below are clarifications for each activity, to the extent permitted by the available data:



Limit level/Threshold value

Setting up accounts

Services for creating and managing payment accounts, including electronic wallets and non-bank credit cards.

There are no specific amounts specified for setting up accounts. Requirements vary conditioned on the total volume of transactions and additional services.

Transfer money inside the country

Services for transferring funds within Singapore.

For SPI - transactions surpassing to no more than SGD 3 million per month for each type of payment service.

Transcontinental money transactions

International funds transfer services from and to Singapore.

Same as for domestic transfers, with a limit of SGD 3 million per month for SPI.

Accepting payments from merchants

Facilitating merchant transaction handling, encompassing the deployment of point-of-sale (POS) terminals or virtual payment gateways for online transfers.

For SPI - total transaction volume up to 3 million SGD per month or up to 6 million SGD for two or more types of payment services.

Issuing digital currencies

Issue of electronic money for use in payment for goods and services or transfer to other persons.

For SPI, a total amount of digitalized money not surpassing SGD 5 million on any day.

Assistance provided for managing transactions involving virtual currencies.

Engaging in the obtaining, disposition, and transfer of digital payment tokens, including cryptocurrencies.

There are no specific thresholds for digital tokens in the context of SPI/MPI licensing.

Currency exchange

Purchase and sale of international currency in cash.

There are no specific thresholds for currency exchange in the context of the SPI license; this type of activity may require separate consideration.

It is essential to emphasize that surpassing the designated limits mandates the acquisition of a Major Payment Institution (MPI) license. Beyond meeting threshold criteria, entities are obligated to adhere to various additional stipulations, encompassing managerial benchmarks, cybersecurity protocols, as well as illicit funds laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) protocols.

Tax benefits, opportunities for international business

Singapore's tax system is considerably regarded as one of the most attractive and favorable globally, positioning the country as a prime destination for international business ventures. Renowned for its extensive array of tax incentives and inducements, the system is strategically crafted to attract international contributions and foster entrepreneurial endeavors.

Singaporean tax system is characterized by its transparency and simplicity. With a corporate tax rate set at one of the lowest globally, standing at 17%, Singapore emerges as a premier choice for transnational corporations. Furthermore, the presence of numerous double taxation avoidance agreements with other nations streamlines international operations, enhancing Singapore's appeal as a top destination for businesses worldwide.

The system encompasses various tax incentives and stimuli for companies, comprising substantial discounts and exclusions for new enterprises, as well as for companies engaged in specific operations such as R&D, monetary services, and high-tech manufacturing.

Tax incentives for new companies

Incentives for new entities: in the initial 3 years of performance, fledgling enterprises are entitled to full tax exemption on the first 100,000 SGD of profits and partial exemption on the subsequent 200,000 SGD.

Research and development

Research and development incentives: enterprises investing in research and development in Singapore can avail themselves of significant tax benefits, comprising the possibility for double deduction of R&D expenses.

International trade support

Incentives for multinational trade: Singapore offers various tax agreements to avoid double taxation, along with special tax regimes for maritime and logistics operators, reinforcing its position as a global trade and logistics hub.

Investment support

Investment tax inducements: the Singapore authority offers various programs and incentives to engage investments in specific industries and technologies, including tax credits and property tax exemptions.

Benefits for international talents

Global talent programs: there are specialized tax programs designed to attract and retain highly skilled foreign professionals working in Singapore.

These preferences are aimed at encouraging innovation and economic growth in leading industries.

Singaporean tax climate fosters favorable conditions for global commerce, positioning the country as a primary monetary and commercial hub in the Asia-Pacific region. Leveraging its strategic location and access to rapidly growing Asian markets, Singapore supplies enterprises with an ideal platform for regional and multinational activities. Tax initiatives such as the exemption of foreign income support Singapore's role as a regional and global hub.

The registration of a company in Singapore and the optimization of its tax framework can yield significant benefits for global business. Tax incentives and stimuli, coupled with robust legislation and a resilient economy, position Singapore as one of the most attractive domains for multinational business operations. A key factor in achieving success lies in obtaining expert legal support and specialized consultation, facilitating effective navigation of Singapore's tax legislation and enabling full utilization of available advantages and opportunities.


Acquiring an SPI license and registering a payment company in Singapore emerge as pivotal milestones for enterprises aspiring to operate within the country's monetary domain. These actions not only create a juridical structure for payment service undertakings but also unveil pathways to one of the most cutting-edge and innovative world monetary markets.

For the successful attainment of an SPI license, companies should meticulously prepare and thoroughly familiarize themselves with national lawful stipulations, rendering legal consultation indispensable at all stages of the process. This encompasses the arrangement of all requisite documentation, adherence to stringent regulatory criteria, as well as the provision of risk management and client rights protection.

The enrollment of a payment institution in Singapore reveals unique opportunities for enterprises, encompassing access to global pecuniary streams and integration into the world economy. However, to achieve success, it requires not only licensing but also the continuous maintenance of high operational protocols and customer service under regulatory oversight, employing innovative management practices.

Ultimately, the process of acquiring an SPI license and enrolling a payment institution in Singapore necessitates meticulous planning, deep understanding of the national market and legislation, as well as competent process management. The key to success lies in a multitude of factors, comprising thorough preparation, strategic foresight, and adaptability in the face of evolving regulatory criteria. To enhance the likelihood of success, enterprises are advised to leverage the expertise of seasoned experts and attorneys specializing in financial supervision and licensing in Singapore.

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