post-title Which bank should I choose to start my business account in Singapore?

Which bank should I choose to start my business account in Singapore?

Last modified: May 31, 2020

Which bank should I choose to start my business account in Singapore?

Which bank should I choose to start my business account in Singapore?

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) requires all businesses (with some exceptions) in Singapore set up a bank account. With more than 200 banks present in Singapore, it can get a little confusing to choose one that suit your business the most. Read on to check out our ranking of the top banks in Singapore for entrepreneurs and founders, as well as a great new solution for entrepreneurs: Transferwise.

Which bank is the best?

All the banks have different strengths and weaknesses – giving different benefits to business owners.

We found that DBS has the most convenient process for bank account set up, meaning that it takes the least amount of time. If you’re looking for a new bank account in the shortest amount of time, DBS is for you. That being said, DBS offers a limited range of options for business bank accounts and has monthly fees depending on which account type you choose.

In contrast, UOB has a rather complicated process for setting up a new bank account; you can’t complete this process online. Additionally, it has high transaction fees and minimum balances. Still, it’s one of the largest banks in Asia, so it’s worth considering from a global standpoint.

OCBC offers the most diverse range of business accounts. This bank has low initial deposits but does charge an annual fee for business growth accounts. This bank might be the right choice for established companies, as accounts that meet a minimum balance of $30,000 enjoy banking without any fees.

Maybank has low initial deposits and offers an account that has no minimum balance and is without fees. This bank, and particularly their FlexiBiz Account, is the option we most recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting out.

Finally, Transferwise enables your company to have a low-cost bank account and access to multiple currencies. We find their solution is the best if you are going to be paid or work in other currencies than SGD as you can have EUR, USD and more.

Comparing each bank: DBS, Maybank, OCBC, UOB, and a great new alternative: Transferwise

We start off with DBS, also known as The Development Bank of Singapore. Its headquarters is located in Singapore, but the bank has opened branches in China, South East Asia, and South Asia. To date, DBS is the largest bank in Southeast Asia with over 100 branches.

The best perk with DBS is their short set-up time. DBS claims setting up a bank account takes a mere 5 minutes. Below is a table listing the business accounts that DBS offers and reviews for DBS can be found here.

As you can see, there are all initial deposits for the DBS accounts in addition to monthly and maintenance fees. It’s very convenient, however, to set up a digital banking account for sole proprietors. Simply link the account to your DBS personal account and then provide your ACRA Business Registration Number. It is really that easy.

Next up we have Maybank, one of Southeast Asia’s largest banks. They provide many services, such as investment banking, corporate banking, insurance, consumer banking, and stock broking, to name a few.

If you are looking to start a business account with them, there are four main options listed under the commercial banking section on their site.

  1. FlexiBiz Account –  manage your business’ financial needs while incurring interest
  2. PremierBiz Account – also incurs interest and while you can conveniently check your funds plus up to .318% interest on your account
  3. Conveyancing Account – non-interest bearing account for law firms in Singapore.
  4. Foreign Currency Account – payments in your own foreign currency. Deposit or withdraw in local or foreign currency

You can read reviews for Maybank here.

One important thing to note is that they have a low minimum initial deposit of $1,000. Additionally, there are no monthly fees for the FlexiBiz Account. This is the most popular account for most entrepreneurs, as it’s the best for companies who are cash-strapped.

OCBC is an acronym that stands for Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation. It came about after the merger of three local banks in Singapore and currently has the largest insurance holdings in Singapore in Great Eastern Holdings.

Just like all the other banks on the list, they offer a comprehensive variety of services. They offer corporate accounts, loans, consumer accounts, online banking, and the like. They have three business accounts for different stages of businesses. The Business Growth Account is designed for brand new businesses. The Business Entrepreneur Account is for growing businesses that need to perform more transactions. The Business Entrepreneur Account Plus is for established businesses.

You can read reviews for OCBC Bank here.

As you can see, only the Business Entrepreneur Account Plus does not require a monthly fee (unless you have less than the required hefty amount of $30,000). The other accounts, made for smaller businesses do have annual fees. However, the Business Entrepreneur Account offers plenty of free transactions, something that not many other accounts offer.Lastly, we have UOB, which stands for United Overseas Bank, one of Asia’s leading banks. They have a strong presence all over China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand and still aims to expand its regional presence in Asia.

UOB’s Commercial Banking Accounts are divided into three groups. Under each group is an account that will suit your business banking needs. Today, we will look at the operating accounts, as they are the ones made for businesses and allow the most cash flow. You can read reviews for UOB here.

You still need to go through the usual process when opening an account with UOB. This means you must go to your branch of choice and get the required forms. You also need to fill out the necessary information and then submit it to the bank officer. This is a lot more inconvenient than the other three banks, which offer account opening services online.

Finally, let’s talk about a new solution we love here, Transferwise! This new solution will let you open an account in SGD in Singapore and have your own bank details in EUR or USD (and more currencies to come) and 14x cheaper than PayPal or traditional banks. Transfer rates are cheaper than any other banks and also much faster, making it the best bank for companies working in various locations and multiple currencies. You can get paid with no fees in any currency you want and they have a business MasterCard that works well everywhere.

This is the bank we are using for our company as it does it all, definitely a must to look at!

Signup here and receive a free international transfer of up to 800SGD!

The verdict

UOB is the most inconvenient in terms of the set-up process. Additionally, their website is not very user-friendly. It’s difficult to compare the different accounts on their website. Adding to that, they have high minimum balances and transaction fees.

DBS has the most convenient procedure taking the least amount of time. However, they lack product diversity in terms of business accounts. Unless you opt for their fixed deposit account, you will face monthly fees. Doing so, however, will make your funds inaccessible.

OCBC provides the most diverse range of business accounts and has a solid online banking platform to track your expenses. Although they offer low initial deposits, they charge annual fees for their business growth account. For their business entrepreneur account plus (designed for established businesses), hitting the minimum balance of $30,000 waives fees and also grants you free service for the first 50 cheques. For established businesses looking to expand into Singapore, we recommend the OCBC business entrepreneur account plus.

Maybank’s diverse range of products and services can seem overwhelming. However, they have the enticing FlexiBiz Account which charges no fees and has no minimum balance. With a low initial deposit of $1000, it surely is the most tempting option for entrepreneurs facing cashflow problems early on. Maybank’s FlexiBiz Account is the one we recommend for entrepreneurs just starting out.

Transferwise is our favorite when it comes to cheap, fast and multi-currencies account. It is like opening an account in Singapore, the USA, UK, and Europe at the same time!

For a more comprehensive look at the reviews of these four banks, check out this link.

For other types of corporate services. you can find the best services recommended for you based on hundreds of companies reviewed on our platform.

Comments (3)

  1. From what I understand, UOB has started charging annual fee on their business accounts. Please do that note and consider that in your comparison. Thank you.

  2. The DBS business account is awful. You can only see transactions up to 6 months old! Then the ONLY way you can see earlier transactions is by paper and they will charge you $20 for each month of printing on paper!!!

    Their online system (IDEAL… haha!) is clunky and slow. Whenever you log in I think they have an old guy who hobbles down a corridor and picks out a file and then types it up on a terminal….

    Worst bank I have ever dealt with and I am a director for 3 companies in 3 countries.

    1. Mark,
      who would you recommend in Singapore. We currently use CIMB and OCBC and predominately transact in USD with a lot of overseas transfers. The fees of both are very high.
      Regards David

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