May 10, 2017

The MAS had already announced it a while ago but newspapers are picking up on the news of an ‘account opening utility’ now as well (StraitsTimes). The idea is not new of course but it is an achievement and definitely good news for the (individual) customer. Instead of having to fill out forms and bring along different original documents to open an account, an individual Singaporean customer will in future just have to do that once with MyInfo. Thereafter banks can use that information combined with the already available public information for their internal account opening process knowing that all regulatory requirements on documentation have been met.

Is this solving ‘all’ problems with account opening and client onboarding though? Let’s analyze the impact.

For individuals, opening a bank account will become easier, but likely a prospective client will still have to provide information to the bank and will have to sign forms, signature cards, consent forms etc. Not all information that a bank needs to meet regulatory requirement will be in MyInfo

For banks it means a more streamlined onboarding process and the ability to offer a better customer experience.

The harmonization of account opening requirements is a major achievement and creating a common repository for account opening documentation will reduce the burden for individuals to open an account. Further integration with the banks’ Apps and extending the service to more products will even make life more convenient.

If this helps banks in their overall CDD and KYC efforts is yet to be seen. For most banks the bulk of the ‘cost of compliance’ sits in periodic reviews of commercial clients. MyInfo will not provide much relief for that issue.