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Singapore has a very dynamic banking sector that enhances the already business-friendly environment policies that make it a business-oriented hub in the Southeast Asia Region. Singapore's economic openness and its well-established legal system, attract businesses from all over the world, making it a preferred choice to have their regional headquarters and also fostering the creation of startups and the relocation of international talent.

Nevertheless, the topic of banking and the options available for business-savvy people might remain an issue of concern, especially when opening their first business account. In this guide prepared by Statrys, we will cover many aspects and considerations about the process of opening a bank account, the term deemed as “offshore” and its connotation, as well as give some insight into the most well-known banking institutions in the country.  

Requirements For Offshore Bank Account

To start in this section, we should get into the word “offshore” which is often shrouded with misconceptions. This term refers to a geographical location from the perspective of the person that is talking or referring to. For example, when this term is used together to refer to an offshore company or an offshore bank account, this means a company or an account was established or set up, outside the usual residence or home country of an individual or where the main company group is located.  Additionally, having an offshore company or bank account is usually associated with tax evasion or other malpractices, which in reality is not the case. 

Now that we have cleared the air about the term “offshore”, we can understand that an offshore bank account in Singapore, refers to a bank account that was opened by a foreign national and follows the regulations within Singapore. In the next section, we will discuss some of the requirements for opening a business bank account in Singapore.

Here, we will enlist some aspects that a business owner must comply with to open a business account with a bank in Singapore: 

  • Interview with the directors and signatories.  
  • Corporate documents.
  • Identity documents and address proof of the individuals involved.

During the opening process, the bank executives assigned to your case might need further supporting documents. Also, be ready to travel to Singapore, this depends on the banking institution's requirements. If you want to know more about the process of opening an offshore bank account in Singapore, please read our dedicated article here

Considerations For Business Bank Account

A business account refers to an account under the name of a specific business entity. For this guide, we will refer to a business account in Singapore, as a banking account that belongs to a subsidiary company or as an offshore company, from an international business group or business individual. Following this line, it is important to know what kind of features and advantages the banking institutions in Singapore can offer to your business.

We have prepared a list of elements for your reference, that in our experience, it's important to keep in mind when choosing to partner up with a banking institution since it will be a crucial element for operating your business in Singapore. These details will be expanded on in the next section.

Here, we share with you our advice and considerations before choosing a bank to open your Singapore business bank account. Our list is as follows:

  • Business account types.
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  • Minimum balance required.
  • Minimum initial deposit.
  • Currencies are available in your bank account.
  • Online banking platform and services.
  • Charges for the use of the account. 
  • Advantages or benefits for the users.

Now that you are more familiar with our recommendations, we suggest you go more into the topic of the Business Bank Account in Singapore by reading our dedicated article that we have prepared.

List of Banks in Singapore

Since we will touch on the topic of the banking institutions that are registered in the country and are authorized to provide banking services, we must go through a quick introduction to the regulatory framework of the banks in Singapore. The supervising authority of the banking and financial institutions of Singapore is the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). It also provides licenses to institutions that want to provide banking services. On the other hand, the legislation for banks is the Banking Act of 1970.

With this basic introduction to the banking system of Singapore, we are all set up to move into the list that we have prepared about the most well-known local banks, as well as the international banks that can make your business grow the way you want it.  

Top Local Banks

Top International Banks

To consult the full registry for banking institutions, the corresponding local authority has the directory available here.

While having done our research and provided a list of the most well-known banking institutions in Singapore, this is just a very small representation of all the banks that currently operate in the country.

Digital Business Accounts

Operating your bank account through a mobile device has become a common occurrence in recent years. In Singapore, you are not limited to only using traditional banking institutions, it is possible to also obtain a digital business account that can be operated remotely thanks to its policies that allow other companies to provide banking services online. Moreover, the

Furthermore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) currently is granting 2 types of licenses for digital banking in Singapore:

  • Digital Full Bank (DFB): this license allows providing full commercial banking services to individuals and corporations. However, there is a trial period that restricts certain amounts of deposit. After the trial period is over, the restrictions are lifted by the authorities. Here we will enlist the current banks in this category:
    - GXS Bank.
    - MariBank.
    - Trust Bank.
  • Digital Wholesale Bank (DWB): on the other hand, this kind of license is given to an institution that will be focusing only on corporate clients, specifically, Small and Medium Enterprises. Additionally, digital banks of this category have the same restrictions as traditional wholesale banks. Nevertheless, there is no restriction on the amount of deposit that one can receive. The following institutions fall under this category:
    - ANEXT Bank.
    - Green Link Digital Bank.

Alternatives to Digital Banks and Traditional Banks

On the same line of services, there are other options, different from the new digital banks, that offer solutions for the management of transactions. These are the payment processing platforms or also known as Electronic Monetary Institutions (EMI). Giving entrepreneurs and business owners the ability to receive and send money to their personalized business accounts, as well as to access different currencies that better suit their business needs.

If this brief introduction to Digital Banking makes you want to know more about the topic, please consult our dedicated article related to Digital Business Bank Accounts in Singapore, in which more details are discussed. 

Conclusion

As we have gone through different sections and topics, this guide prepared by the team of experts of Statrys has the intention to provide you with the right tools to help you to make an informed decision about your options to choose the best path for your banking needs. 

Singapore has many options that can adjust to the needs of a small team of people, from a startup to multinational corporations searching to relocate their ex-pat's expert team in Asia. Additionally, the whole process of opening a bank account can become lengthy and complicated, therefore it is always advisable to take the time to do some research of your own to get familiar with some of the offered services, as well as to approach the experts in the process to save you some troubles and headaches along the way.

Do you want to know more about how to get an account for your Singapore company? Get in touch at sales@statrys.com or apply for a Statrys business account.

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