Best International Money Transfer Service for Businesses in Singapore 2023
To thrive in today’s global marketplace, small-to-medium-size businesses (SMEs) in Singapore need to expand their operations overseas. In a recent survey by Airwallex, 64% of SMEs in Singapore plan to expand their business overseas in the next 12 months. Having a regional or global presence gives you growth opportunities like increased revenues and access to diverse talent pools. However, overseas expansion also brings unique challenges, particularly when choosing the best money transfer service for cross-border payments. Inefficient payment methods can hinder rather than help your business and lead to issues like increased costs and operational disruptions.
Let’s explore the international money transfer options available to businesses in Singapore, and how to choose one that will support your expansion plans.
What are cross-border payments?
Simply put, cross-border payments are international payments. They occur when funds are transferred from a sender or financial institution based in Singapore to a recipient located in another country. Cross-border payments are done through financial institutions like banks, for various banking purposes like sending salaries to employees or accepting payments from regional clients.
Even if your business doesn’t have a physical presence overseas, you may still transact with suppliers, employees, contractors, and customers outside of Singapore. In this case, efficient and cost-effective B2B cross-border payments play an important role in driving your growth.
5 key challenges of cross-border payments
Cross-border transactions can increase revenue and market share, but they also come with unique drawbacks. The following risks must be carefully mitigated to reap the benefits of international trade:
Wire transfers or telegraphic transfers are one of the most popular methods for transferring money to an international bank account. This electronic payment method uses global networks and transfer agencies to send funds securely across countries.
Although wire transfers are reliable and convenient, they are also expensive. Banks charge fixed fees to cover cable charges - the cost of actually wiring the money to the destination bank. Contacting an overseas bank to coordinate a wire transfer takes time and effort, and this incurs fees similar to what your telco might charge for an overseas phone call.
A wire transfer may also have intermediary fees. This happens when your Singapore bank does not have an established relationship with the recipient bank in the destination country.
Cross-border transactions are subject to fluctuating foreign exchange rates, which increases the risk of financial losses.
Let’s say you’ve invoiced a client in the USA. The conversion rate between USD and SGD may change between the time you send the invoice and the time you receive the money in your SGD bank account. If the exchange rate changes unfavourably, it can reduce the transaction’s value and impact your revenues. Currency risks can also impact supplier payments; you may end up paying more or less than the invoiced amount if the rate moves unfavourably.
International payments are subject to regulations and compliance obligations that prevent financial crime and increase security. For example, these laws include the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements, which require you to verify your clients’ identities, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the UK and EU, which requires you to keep sensitive customer information safe.
Navigating these requirements can be time-consuming, and the price of failure is steep. Non-compliance can result in delayed payments, heavy fines, or loss of banking relationships.
Cross-border payments are instantly processed by the receiving bank, but it can be hard to predict when the transaction gets completed. It can be as quick as several working days, but it can also take weeks to resolve. This happens because of the time differences, bank holidays, and fraud prevention procedures.
Processing cross-border transactions requires dealing with multiple intermediaries, foreign exchange risk, and a diverse range of financial regulations. Resolving issues or disputes can also be time-consuming as you navigate differences in time zones and jurisdictions. Managing this complexity requires additional investment in skilled staff or specialised solutions, which can increase your costs.
How to choose a money transfer service for your business
Thanks to innovations in digital payments, Singapore businesses can enjoy the benefits of cross-border transactions while minimising the risks. Fintech companies like Airwallex, Wise, and YouBiz offer low-fee international payments, multi-currency support, and compliance with global regulations.
Each of these services has its own strengths, and it’s important to keep your business needs in mind as you evaluate your options.
Pay suppliers, vendors or employees in foreign countries
|Free local transfers to 70+ Countries (Bypass SWIFT)||Free local transfers to 110+ Countries (Bypass SWIFT)||Overseas transfers are through SWIFT, with a chargeable fee|
|Customer service channels||General email and chat support only||Dedicated account managers and local support for Singapore SMEs via email, phone, and chat||Support for consumers and businesses via email, phone, and chat support|
Open local currency accounts that come with local bank account details
Invoice overseas customers & receive in local currencies
|10 currency accounts and local bank account details for 10 countries||11 currency accounts with support for Chinese Yuan and Hong Kong Dollar and
local bank account details for 10 countries
|9 currency accounts within Singapore only, which may result in some transaction fees|
|Global Accounts for Chinese Yuan and Hong Kong Dollar||No||Yes||No|
|Overseas money transfer fees
Converting currencies for cross-border payments
|FX Fees: From 0.43% using wire or bank transfers||FX Fees: From 0.40% using wire or bank transfers||NA|
|Multi-Currency Corporate Cards
Employee expenses and corporate purchases
|$4 per physical or virtual corporate card (0.5% cashback)||Create unlimited physical
and virtual corporate cards
(1% unlimited cashback)
|Create unlimited physical and
virtual corporate cards for free
(1% unlimited cashback)
|Registering for an account||54 SGD||Free||Free|
|Payment gateway||NA||Yes, with plug-and-play integrations to Shopify, Woocommerce, and Magento||NA|
|Payment links and invoices
Accept one-time or recurring payments from overseas and local customers in their preferred currency
Why Airwallex is the best money transfer service for Singapore businesses
Airwallex is an excellent choice for Singapore SMEs seeking a secure and cost-effective money transfer service provider. Unlike many digital payment platforms, Airwallex is designed specifically for businesses, which gives you benefits beyond low transfer costs:
Dedicated support for Singapore businesses
Despite advances in financial technology, B2B cross-border payments can still be complex and time-consuming. You want a partner with a strong understanding of Singapore SMEs, and who’ll help you succeed every step of the way.
Airwallex offers dedicated on-the-ground support for businesses in Singapore via email, chat, or phone. We work closely with our clients to resolve issues and disputes that may arise during the payment process, which improves your transfer times and operational efficiency. Through our personalised support, your business can quickly reap the benefits of cross-border trade and navigate its challenges with ease.
A Global Account that covers 10 countries
Airwallex is more than a multi-currency digital wallet. It is also a Global Account that lets you receive and send international payments in 10 countries, as though you have a local bank account in those countries.
A Global Account is a local currency account made in your business’s name and includes a dedicated account number and local bank account details. This lets you send and receive funds in domestic currencies, without the red tape required to open a business bank account in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, New Zealand, or Japan.
On top of this, Airwallex is one of the few Global Account providers that enable Singapore businesses to receive and hold Chinese Yuan (CNY). For example, you can use your Global Account number to collect CNY from customers in China, which will be kept in your Airwallex account. When it’s time to pay suppliers in China, you can send your CNY to their bank accounts, without incurring foreign exchange fees or delays.
Fast, low-cost international transfers
Airwallex enables fast cross-border payments to 150 countries and in 46+ currencies, as quickly as 1 business day.
Airwallex is able to offer free overseas transfers in local currencies because of our partnership with local payment rails in different countries and economic territories. Money sent from your Global Account is processed through local payment rails, which lets you bypass the SWIFT network and avoid SWIFT fees.
For example, if you use your Airwallex Global Account to send Euros to a partner in Germany, the money will go through a payment rail in the Eurozone instead of the SWIFT network, which helps you to enjoy free local transfers.
On top of free local transfers and market-leading FX rates, Airwallex simplifies your payment and accounting workflows. You can set up batch transfers to multiple recipients across countries and currencies without writing complex code. Airwallex can also be integrated to Xero and other accounting software, so your transfers get reconciled instantly.
Reduced currency risk
Currency risk is the biggest drawback to cross-border payments, but Airwallex’s built-in features can mitigate its impact on your bottom line.
Besides offering competitive exchange rates, Airwallex provides short-term and long-term FX risk management solutions. Whether you’re locking in today’s preferred forex rates, or fixing preferred rates for future transactions, you minimise losses incurred when rates inevitably change.
Payment links & invoices
Clients love a frictionless experience, and Airwallex makes it easier for customers to send online payments from 180+ countries and through various payment methods including popular payment methods such as Visa, Mastercard, WeChat Pay, Grabpay, and more.
Airwallex lets you generate reusable or one-time payment links that you can embed in digital invoices. Each payment link comes with 3D secure authentication, protecting you from fraud and ensuring you receive the full amount.
Issue unlimited corporate cards for free
A corporate card is a valuable tool for employees who need to pay for business expenses or travel overseas for meetings. Your Airwallex account lets you issue Airwallex Borderless Cards, multi-currency physical and virtual corporate card that runs on the Visa network and supports transactions in 140+ currencies.
With this card, your team can pay for business expenses anywhere Visa is accepted, with no transaction fees and friendly foreign exchange rates. Cards are free to issue and have no annual fees. All transactions earn 1% unlimited cashback with no minimum spend, which adds up to significant savings on business expenses.
Get started with Airwallex in minutes
Ready to start making cross-border transactions with Airwallex? Here’s how:
Verify your business with these documents - it only takes a few minutes
Add funds and send payments
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