For entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Singapore, one of the first few questions you might ask is “which bank should I select to open a corporate account with?”.
ACRA requires that all Singaporean business have a corporate bank account, with only a few exceptions (for sole propriertorship, etc). With so many banks available here, it can be a little confusing to know which one offers the best terms, pricing and features for your needs.
Before opening a corporate account, you will need to ensure that you already have a registered & approved business with a UEN number. The process for opening the account is fairly simple for most of the major banks in Singapore.
In this article we will do a comparison of 3 most popular banks in Singapore (DBS, OCBC & UOB) as well as, Aspire, a brand new banking solution that is making big waves in the business scene as the first neobank in Singapore!
Choosing The Best Corporate Bank In Singapore
In this guide we go through the main corporate banking solutions that the top local banks offer. If you want to skip straight to the comparison table click here.
There are a few important factors to take note of when comparing corporate banking accounts.
- Minimum balance – If you are a small startup then this may be more applicable to you because some banks may require a minimum balance to be maintain each month or you may incur fall below fees
- Administrative Fees – this is the cost of opening & maintaining a business bank account (usually charged monthly)
- Cheque Book & Cheque Clearing Fees – although we are steadily moving into the realm of digital payments, if your business requires this funciton then you want to watch out for the costs
- FAST Transfer & GIRO Payments – unlike personal bank accounts, making transfers with your corporate bank account often involves transaction charges
- Ability to Hold Foreign Currency – these accounts are usually associated with higher costs so you may want to choose these options only if your business needs to hold foreign currency
- Debit Card Cashback Rates – business cards generally have much lower cashback rates than personal ones. If you foresee large expenses for your business that will require the use of your corporate debit card, then you will also want to take note of the cashback rates for each bank. The type of spending may also affect which card you choose.
Don’t be too hasty and select just any corporate bank account. Some have much higher minimum balance requirements and a hefty early-cancellation charge should you decide to close it off early. As business owners, we want to take advantage of every situation to save more money for our business expenditures!
Development Bank of Singapore (DBS)
DBS is convenient because you can apply for a corporate bank account online, but will need to prepare the relevant information required in order to complete the application. The bank offers the following corporate banking solutions:
|Digital Account (SGD Only)||Multi-Currency Account||Fixed Deposit Account|
|Fees||$18/month ($216/yearly)||$3.33/month ($40/year)||–|
|Fall Below Fees||–||$35||$35|
|Cheque Book||$25 / book||Free||$5 per cheque|
|FAST/GIRO Transfer Fees||$0.50 per transaction||$0.50 per transaction||$0.50 per transaction|
- GIRO transfer (no charge for electronic banking)
- PayNow (Fees waived till 31 Dec 2021)
- Telegraphic Transfers (1/8% with min S$10, max S$120)
- Inward Telegraphic Transfer (S$10 per transaction)
Overseas-China Banking Corporation (OCBC)
|Business Growth Account||Business Entrepreneur Account Plus|
|Fall Below Fees||–||$50|
|Cheque Book||S$25 / book||–|
|Cheque Clearing Fee||S$0.75 per cheque||S$0.75 per cheque|
|FAST/GIRO Transfer Fees||Free – Unlimited||S$0.10 per GIRO transaction|
- PayNow (Fees waived till 31 Dec 2021)
- Telegraphic Transfers (1/8% with min S$10, max S$100)
- Inward Telegraphic Transfer (S$10 per transaction)
OCBC’s digital banking system for corporate accounts is Velocity@OCBC. I actually have been using an OCBC Corporate Account for about a year and I find that the Velocity@ocbc platform can be a little slow at times which can be a little frustrating. But overall it still works well and the Business Growth Account is one of the cheaper options with no minimum balance.
United Overseas Bank (UOB)
|UOB Current Account||UOB eBusiness Account||UOB BizTransact Account|
|Fall Below Fees||$35||$15||S$80|
|FAST Transfer Fees||Free up to 50 transactions||Free ($0.50 rebate per transaction up to 60 / month)||Free ($0.50 rebate per transaction up to 100 / month)|
|Digital Banking Fee||S$20 / month||Free||Free|
The digital banking platform for UOB business accounts is UOB Infinity which is an additional $20 per month if you are using the UOB Current Account.
Aspire Business Bank Acccount
Aspire is a new digital banking solution that really surprised me with their ease of use and no commitment fees. I actually decided to give it a go and was able to create an account within 30 mins!
Here are the main features of the bank account:
- No minimum balance (no fall below fees)
- No monthly fees
- $0 fast transfer fees (promotion valid till end 2020)
- Lowest FX rates (mid-market rates)
The great thing about Aspire is the user friendly interface and no commitment fees (so you can try it out for free without even depositing any money!). Aspire is also integrated with TransferWise so you can send and receive funds overseas at different currencies with the best FX rates!
The best part for me was the debit card cashback of 1% (more on that in the comparison below).
Best Corporate Bank Comparison
1. Account Features Comparison
|Business Account||Business Digital Account||Business Growth Account||SGD Current Account||FlexiBiz Account|
|Monthly Fees||–||$18 / month||$10 / month||$35 / year||$0|
|Initial Deposit Amount||–||$1,000||–||$10,000||–|
2. Business Debit Card Comparison
|Virtual Visa Debit||Visa Debit||Visa Debit||Visa Debit||Visa Debit|
|Cashback (Foreign Currency Spend)||1.0%*||0.5%|
|FX Fees||0.7% on Visa Rates||$1,000||–||$10,000||–|
If your business spends a significant amount of money every month, then having a higher rebate will definitely help to offset some costs.
Ultimately which card is best really depends on your spending habits for your business. In general debit cards for business accounts offer much lower cashback rates which is why Aspire’s 1% cashback really stands out.
*Do note that the 1% cashback is only applicable to all advertising spend on Facebook & Google ads as well as qualifying online software subscriptions like Quickbooks (with a growing list).
For someone like me who uses a lot of online software and spends large budget on Facebook & Google ads, the Aspire Debit Card really offers a comparative edge with the higher cashback rate.
3. Payment Transfer Methods
|FAST Transfer||In Development||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|GIRO Payments||In Development||✓||✓||✓||✓|
*At the moment Aspire does not currently have the above functions but they are being actively developed and will be available soon. If you require these features for your business use, you may wish to consider any of the other banks.
Sending & Receiving Overseas Transfers
Transferwise is an innovative solution that allows you to transfer funds internationally in multiple currencies at the best mid-market rates. The reason it’s been so popular with the business community is because it offers FX conversion rates that are far superior compared to transferring funds from a local bank.
Although banks may charge a fixed rate for receiving international transfers, the FX rate that they apply to the actual amount you receive in the bank is often much more unfavorable than market rates. This means you may actually end up paying more.
If you are going to be receiving payments from overseas or making payments frequently, TransferWise is a great platform that allows you to access the best FX rates available. You can create mulitple foreign currency accounts to store money and choose when you want to convert them into local currency.
Everything can be accessed online (no need to physically go down to open an account) and the user interface is really easy to navigate.
Best Corporate Bank in Singapore Verdict: Aspire
For its ease of use and efficiency, Aspire is my number one candidate for a Corporate Bank in Singapore. The best part is that there is no minimum balance or opening fees so you can actually try out the platform entirely for free.
For entrepreneurs who are looking to advertise on Facebook and Google, then you should definitely get an Aspire Debit Card just to enjoy the 1.0% cashback!
Aspire is currently the cheapest option for digital banking, however there are some limitations which included foreign currency accounts and payment transfer methods (FAST, GIRO, PayNow). If you require these features then you can consider the other banking options too which are reliable.
I actually have a coporate business account with OCBC and Aspire at the same time (since there is no minimum limit).
The Aspire platform is still fairly new and there are many more planned updates coming soon for additional features such as Paynow integration, FAST tranfers, and multi-currency accounts.