(Bloomberg) — HDFC Bank Ltd, India’s biggest private sector lender, is seeking to open its first branch in Singapore, signaling its overseas ambitions after sewing up a landmark merger with mortgage financier Housing Development Finance Corp. last year.
The bank has applied to the Monetary Authority of Singapore for a banking license and is awaiting approval, according to sources familiar with the matter. It is not clear what kind of banking license HDFC Bank is seeking in Singapore, said one of the people, who declined to be identified as the information is confidential.
The banking giant is seeking a bigger presence abroad to tap the Indian diaspora for savings and term deposits, as well as to cross-sell more products, including mortgages, the people said. At home, HDFC has been focusing on deepening its reach in the world’s most populous country through loans to retail customers.
HDFC Bank did not respond to an email seeking comment. “As a matter of policy, MAS does not comment on our dealings with financial institutions,” according to a spokesperson from the Singapore regulator.
Singapore, with a population of almost 6 million people, houses a large India diaspora. About 650,000 non-resident and persons of Indian origin live in the city-state, according to Indian government data.
HDFC Bank is currently not licensed or regulated by the MAS, according to its website. It only provides home loans-related advisory services for the purchase of properties in India, the website states.
The categories of banking licenses in Singapore encompass full banks, qualifying full banks and wholesale banks, which impose varying levels of restrictions on the lenders’ activities. State Bank of India and ICICI Bank Ltd. hold qualifying full banking licenses, alongside eight other banks like Bank of China Ltd. and BNP Paribas SA. Such licenses are open only to foreign banks and allow them to have additional branches and/or off-premise ATMs as well as to share ATMs among themselves, according to the Association of Banks in Singapore’s website.
The MAS regulates and supervises more than 150 deposit-taking institutions in Singapore, ranging from full banks to finance companies, according to its website.
Besides Singapore, HDFC Bank also has presence in markets like London, Hong Kong and Bahrain.
The India bank has a total customer base of 93 million at the end of the December quarter compared with 91 million in the preceding three-month period, according to an investor presentation.
–With assistance from Chanyaporn Chanjaroen.
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