Best business account in Singapore for offshore companies 2023

Published on
March 29, 2023
Written by
Marissa Saini
Writers@Aspire
Reviewed by
Episode #
Best business account in Singapore for offshore companies 2023
Learn about various business accounts available in Singapore for your offshore business and how they stack up against Aspire
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If you are an international business looking to expand your operations in Asia or a safe location to store your funds, Singapore can be the perfect destination for you. The city-state is renowned for its world-class banking system, making it an attractive destination for businesses from around the world. However, choosing the right business account provider can be a challenge, with a range of options available from traditional banks to fintech companies. In this article, we will discuss some of the best business account providers in Singapore for international companies in 2023 in Singapore and highlight their key benefits and areas to consider.

Things to Consider

When setting up a business account as a foreign business, there are several things to consider:

  1. Eligibility and Ease of Setup: Is the bank or fintech provider accessible to foreign businesses? How easy is it to set up an account remotely?
  2. Account-Related Fees: What are the setup and monthly fees? What are the minimum balance requirements?
  3. Safety and Security of Funds: How secure is the provider? Are the funds safeguarded in a tier-1 bank?
  4. Transaction Features and Fees: What transaction features are available, and what are the fees for these features?

Based on these factors, let’s deep dive into the options available for international businesses. 

Banks

Traditional banks, such as OCBC, DBS, UOB, and HSBC, allow overseas businesses to open accounts in Singapore. While these banks are highly secure, there are some areas to consider:

Key Benefits:

  • Directly banking with Singapore banks, enjoys the security with the Singapore banking system.

Opening a bank account in Singapore as a foreign business can be a challenging process. Banks typically do not disclose the list of countries they support, and some may require businesses to have a presence in Asia. The account opening process can take up to one month for non-Singaporean directors, and funds are only insured up to ~USD$56,000 (SGD $75,000) as part of the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC) policy. Additionally, banks in Singapore charge hefty setup fees up to USD $1500, and require a high minimum balance, up to $150,000. Foreign exchange (FX) rates can also be a significant cost for businesses, with many banks offering unfavourable rates and hidden fees. If you have large FX transfers to make, these are significant costs to keep in mind.

Aspire

Aspire is a fintech headquartered in Singapore with a presence over SEA. It’s backed by world-class venture capitals, including Sequoia, Lightspeed, Tencent, Paypal ventures, just to name a few. Aspire is also trusted by businesses worldwide, including Tech in Asia, Y Combinator, Endowus, Grain, Love Bonito, and more. 

Key Benefits:

  • Supports international businesses including USA, BVI, Cayman Islands and more.
  • Easy and quick setup, 100% online.
  • No additional setup or hidden fees.
  • Free local transfers via USD-USD locally via ACH & SGD via FAST.
  • Best FX rates, up to 3x cheaper than banks, with 0 FX processing fees.
  • For cross-border SWIFT transfers, only a flat $8 applies (one of the lowest in the market). 
  • 100% of funds are safeguarded in Tier-1 bank in Singapore. 
  • Ability to pay payroll, taxes and Central Provident Fund (social security system for Singaporeans) 
  • Additional perks including unlimited 1% cashback on SaaS/Advertisting. 
  • Option to use same platform for spend management - it’s a platform that scales with your business, a favourite amongst growing startups.

While Aspire has limited multi-currency accounts available at the moment, it provides the essentials such as USD and SGD with one of the best FX rates in the market. The benefits Aspire offers make it the top contender for international businesses looking to open a business account in Singapore. Click the link below to open an Aspire account.

Wise

Wise is a fintech headquartered in the UK and is a specialist in cross-border transactions. It offers both personal and business accounts. Here are some of its benefits:

Key Benefits:

  • Supports over businesses incorporated in over 173 countries* (*Does not support businesses incorporated in Cayman Islands)
  • Easy and quick setup, 100% online.
  • Offers multi-currency accounts in USD, SGD and 7 other currencies.
  • Best FX rates, up to 3x cheaper than banks.
  • Safe and secure with funds safeguarded in tier-1 bank in Singapore.

There is a one-time setup fee of $31 to get multi-currency account details with Wise. Additionally, it's important to note that free local transfers in USD and SGD are not available with Wise. Costs can rack up if your business frequently makes these local transfers. Also, account opening time for Wise can take longer compared to other fintech like Aspire or Airwallex. 

Airwallex

Airwallex is a fintech based in Australia that provides business account and payment gateway services. Here are some of the notable areas about their business accounts: 

Key Benefits:

  • Easy and quick setup, 100% online.
  • One-time setup fee with no additional hidden fees.
  • Offers multi-currency accounts in USD, SGD and 9 other currencies.
  • Safe and secure with funds safeguarded in tier-1 bank in Singapore.

Compared to other fintech companies, Airwallex has a more limited reach, supporting only 51 countries. Additionally, when using Airwallex for foreign currency transactions, there is a markup of 0.6% applied to the exchange rate. If your business has large or frequent FX transfers to make, the cost from FX markups can accumulate quickly.  

How to open a corporate account in Singapore?

Setting up your business account doesn't have to be a complicated process, provided that your business is properly registered and you have all the necessary documentation to get started. The specific steps and requirements for opening an account may vary depending on the bank or service provider you select.

Online account services typically offer the option to upload your required documents electronically, which can expedite the verification process. In contrast, traditional banks may require you to visit a branch location to complete the account setup process.

For instance, Aspire, Wise, Airwallex are options that offer online registration and verification for business accounts. The specific documents needed for verification may vary, but typically include the following: 

  • Proof of identity and address for the user
  • Certificate of Shareholding
  • Business Constitution or Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Proof of identification for the business director and majority shareholders
  • Board resolution (if applicable).

Finally, when considering opening a bank or fintech account for your business, it's essential to check if your business country of incorporation is supported by the provider. It's crucial to do your research beforehand, as not all providers support businesses from all countries. Another important factor to consider is the registration time required to open your business account. While some providers may have a simple and speedy account opening process, others may require a lengthy and complicated process.

Conclusion

Selecting the appropriate business account is crucial for the smooth management of your finances and for minimizing costs associated with everyday banking and financial services.

The ideal account for your business may be offered by a traditional bank in Singapore, or by a non-bank provider such as Aspire, Wise or Airwallex. Traditional banks may have been the go-to option for businesses. However, there’s an increase in digital alternatives, ready to disrupt traditional banks by offering better service, faster onboarding, and lower fees. 

To ensure that you find the right business account for your needs, it's important to research and compare options from a variety of providers. This includes examining the different features and fees of traditional banks as well as newer, online options such as the Aspire Business Account. Click the link below to open an Aspire account today!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marissa Saini is a seasoned writer and an avid trendspotter across business finance, personal finance, travel and lifestyle industries. With writing history at SingSaver, INK, and ohmyhome, Marissa leverages her broad range of experiences to simplify finance and make readers financially savvy.
Marissa Saini
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Aspire is the all-in-one finance operating system for businesses. Our mission is to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs with the financial tools they need to realise their company’s full potential.
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