4 most popular business accounts in Singapore: SME Guide

Shermaine Tan8 min
GuidesBusiness tips
4 most popular business accounts in Singapore: SME Guide
In this article

Whether you're a startup founder or a seasoned entrepreneur, a business account is a catalyst for growth and operational efficiency. Singapore's corporate banking landscape is dominated by DBS, OCBC, UOB, and Maybank. Their long-standing presence and comprehensive solutions make them the first choice for those seeking an SME banking account.

Recently, the rise of digital banks in Singapore has presented better options and unique benefits for businesses, offering more flexible and innovative solutions to adopt. One of these fintech alternatives for SMEs would be Airwallex. Airwallex’s all-in-one Business Account has cost-effective solutions for sending international payments, exchanging currencies at your preferred rates, and automating financial tasks.

Keep reading to learn more about digital banking for business, and why you might want to consider opening a business account with alternative banking options like Airwallex other than a traditional bank.

What is a business account?

A business account, often known as a corporate account, is a specialised banking service for SMEs. Unlike your personal savings account, a business account has corporate account features like higher transaction limits, payroll, and merchant services.  It’s a dedicated space where your enterprise’s financial activities can be monitored, managed, and optimised for growth. 

Key features and benefits of business accounts

To run a successful business, you need to keep your personal and business finances separate. A commercial bank account can help you with this, and bring these additional benefits:

  • Efficient business management. A business account is designed to support your financial operations, with features like higher transaction limits, payroll transactions, and employee corporate cards.

  • Clarity in accounting and tax reporting. A business account keeps your income and expenses neatly documented in one place. This streamlining is critical when filing your income taxes or if IRAS requests an audit.

  • Ease of doing business globally. A business account simplifies the process of working with overseas suppliers or clients, with features like multi-currency accounts, foreign exchange services, and international wire transfers.  Some payment specialists like Airwallex let you open specialised local currency accounts so you can easily create a Chinese RMB account from Singapore or open a US account from Singapore. Airwallex Global Accounts come with local bank and branch codes and dedicated account numbers in your name that can be used to invoice customers. 

Business accounts usually come with the following features:

  • Online business banking. Mobile apps let business owners view balances, make transactions, and manage cash flow from anywhere at any time.

  • Multi-currency support. This allows businesses to hold, receive, and send money in different currencies.

  • Credit facilities. With SME digital banking, you can access business loans, overdrafts, and other financing options that are not available to individuals.

  • Merchant services. Accepting payments from credit cards, digital wallets, and other payment methods can enhance your business’s revenue across sales channels.

  • Payroll services. This feature simplifies the disbursement of employee salaries, deductions, and bonuses. 

Comparing business accounts in Singapore

Singapore's business financial services are led by DBS, OCBC, UOB, and Maybank. These institutions carved out strong reputations by using traditional values and forward-thinking strategies to meet the needs of startups, SMEs, and multinational corporations. 

See how their business banking solutions and fees compare with the Airwallex Business Account.

DBS Business Multi-Currency Account OCBC Business Growth Account UOB eBusiness Account Maybank FlexiBiz Account Airwallex Business Account
Minimum initial deposit None SGD 1,000 SGD 1,000 SGD 1,000 None
Account opening or setup fee None None SGD 500 for foreign incorporated companies None None
Min average daily balance SGD 10,000 SGD 1,000 SGD 5,000 SGD 1,000 None
Multi currency account Yes No, but applicants can also get the OCBC Multi-Currency Account No No Yes
Currencies held AUD, CAD, CHF, CNH, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NOK, NZD, SEK, and USD SGD only SGD only SGD only AUD, CAD, CHF, CNY, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, IDR, JPY, MXN, NZD, NOK, RON, PLN, SEK, SGD, USD, ZAR
Bulk payments Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Virtual and physical company cards No No No No Yes
FAST/GIRO fees 50 free FAST and GIRO payments per month No fees No fees SGD 0.50 per FAST transaction
SGD 0.20 per GIRO transaction
No fees
Outward TT fees (per transaction) SGD 30 SGD 30 1/16% commission (min. S$10, max. S$100) plus cable and/or agent charges 0.125% commission (minimum S$20, maximum S$100) + SGD 20 processing fees SGD 20 -35
Annual account fees SGD 50 No fees SGD 35 No fees No fees
Monthly account fees SGD 40 (waived if average daily balance is > SGD 10,000 or equivalent) SGD 10 (waived for first 2 months) SGD 35 (waived if average daily balance is > SGD 10,000) None None
Instant account opening Companies owned by Singaporeans and PRs only Companies owned by Singaporeans and PRs only None Companies owned by Singaporeans and PRs only All ACRA-registered companies
Other services offered Starter Bundle for businesses incorporated less than 3 years Tailored solutions per industry Personalised insights for SMEs on UOB app Interest-generating savings account E-commerce solutions like Payment Gateways
Integrations with accounting software like Xero

Based on publicly available information from DBS SME Banking, DBS Business Account pricing, OCBC Business Growth Account, UOB eBusiness Account, UOB corporate banking fees, Maybank Flexibiz Account, Airwallex pricing as of 7 Feb 2024

DBS Business Multi-Currency Account 

The DBS Multi-Currency Account is a business checking account for SMEs who trade internationally. It lets you make transactions in SGD and 12 other currencies, and gives you the option to book FX contracts for more competitive rates. Account holders also get 50 free GIRO and FAST transfers per month. 

Newly incorporated businesses can also enjoy lower fees through the DBS Business Account Starter Bundle. On top of transacting in SGD and 12 currencies, it has no monthly service charges and unlimited free FAST and GIRO transactions (excluding bulk payments). 

OCBC Business Growth Account

The OCBC Business Growth Account is another low-cost legacy solution for Singapore-registered businesses. Compared to other OCBC accounts, they have the lowest initial deposit of just $1,000 and free FAST, GIRO, and PayNow transactions. The account also comes with one free debit card that rewards you with 1% cashback on all business expenses.  

Although the OCBC Business Growth Account is an SGD account, you can also open a Multi-Currency Business Account to support your business’s overseas operations.

UOB eBusiness Account 

Young entrepreneurs who prefer a legacy bank might be interested in the UOB eBusiness Account. Among all the UOB corporate banking options, the eBusiness Account has the lowest minimum daily balance (S$5,000) and lowest annual account fee (S$35). 

One notable benefit is the free FAST and GIRO transactions, which is helpful for businesses with high volume local transactions. UOB business internet banking also has a specialised SME app that lets you view the last 6 months’ transactions and gives insights on how to optimise your financials. 

Maybank FlexiBiz Account

If you want no-fuss small business banking, consider the Maybank Flexibiz Account. While it has the same minimum initial deposit requirements as the other business accounts, there’s no minimum balance or monthly account fee. 

The Maybank Flexibiz Account is also the only business account that offers interest on your balances. Though the rates are a modest 0.018% for the first SGD 50,000 and 0.038% for balances over SGD 500,000, it’s a small way your spare cash can work for you. 

Airwallex Business Account

For the SME who craves agility and growth beyond Singapore, the Airwallex Business Account can take you there faster. This full-featured financial platform managed by Airwallex (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (‘Airwallex SG’), is licensed as a Major Payment Institution and is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Airwallex SG accordingly adopts safeguarding measures for its customers’ monies. Airwallex has everything you need to reduce international transaction costs, exchange currencies at interbank rates, and automate your financial operations.

See how Airwallex supports SMEs in ways traditional banking can’t.

How to open a business account in Singapore

The business account opening process is straightforward and requires some preparation. Here's a general guide:

Who is authorised to open a business bank account in Singapore?

You can open a corporate bank account if you are:

  1. A director of the company 

  2. An authorised signatory at your company. They must be listed on the Board Resolution, according to your company’s constitution 

Prepare all documents required for a corporate bank account

Singapore banks require a range of documents to open a corporate account. These documents are necessary to verify your company’s validity, the identities of its company representatives, and to ensure compliance with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations.

Here are the supporting documents you’ll need to prepare:

Certified True Copies of identification documents: 

  • Company Business Profile from ACRA. This is the ACRA document that contains basic information about your business, such as your Unique Entity Number (UEN), date of incorporation, and business activities. 

  • Passport/Singapore IC of the company directors, authorised signatories, and Ultimate Beneficiary Owners.

  • Proof of Residential Address of the company directors, authorised signatories, and Ultimate Beneficiary Owners.

Certified True Copies of business registration documents:

  • Certificate of Incorporation. This document certifies that a company is registered with ACRA in Singapore. 

  • Board of Directors Resolution that sanctions the opening of the corporate account, to be prepared by your company secretary.

  • Company’s Constitution. This is a legal document that outlines the rules and regulations on how the company will be managed. 

Other documents:

Opening an Airwallex business account requires documents and IDs too. However, the process is generally simpler than with corporate banks with no need for you to be physically present. Here’s are the supporting documents needed for opening a corporate bank account and opening a business account with a fintech such as Airwallex.

Corporate bank account Airwallex business account
Certified true copies ✖️
Identification documents
Certificate of incorporation ✖️
Business registration documents Resolution that sanctions the opening of the corporate account
Board of Directors Resolution, signed by all directors
Company Constitution
Shareholding structure signed by director
Industry licence, if the business activity requires any
Other documents Corporate account application form Proof for source of funds, such as customer invoices or personal bank statements of Shareholders

Note that the requirements can vary slightly from bank to bank, and additional documents may be requested based on your business activities or the structure of your company.

Why SMEs need business accounts for global transactions

With a business account, SMEs are positioned for efficiency, innovation, and resilience in a global market. Airwallex can help SMEs take on the world by supporting these needs:

  • Multi-currency capabilities. Airwallex’s Global Accounts let SMEs hold, receive, and pay in 12+ foreign currencies. When an SME receives customer payments in a local currency, they can use the same funds to pay a supplier in that currency, which avoids unnecessary conversion fees.

  • Currency conversion. Airwallex offers access to interbank rates, giving SMEs a cost-effective way to convert currency. This ensures that businesses get the best possible rates, minimising the expenses related to converting currencies for international transactions.

  • Corporate cards and employee reimbursements. The Airwallex Borderless Card solves the problem of slow corporate card issuance and manual employee reimbursements. This multi-currency debit card is available as virtual cards and physical cards. Both types of cards can be issued instantly for free. Employees can submit claims through the app, and managers can track expenses per employee and even set custom limits to restrict spending.

  • Batch payments for vendors and bills. SMEs looking to pay overseas vendors and bills can save time with Airwallex’s Bill Pay feature. Simply upload your invoices, and Airwallex will automatically extract all relevant data. You can even automate your account reconciliation by integrating Airwallex into Xero, Quickbooks, and other bookkeeping software.

  • Accepting global eCommerce payments. For SMEs diving into eCommerce, there’s no need to look elsewhere for payments. Airwallex’s all-in-one platform includes a Payment Gateway with like-for-like settlement. This means you can accept and hold payments in multiple currencies, without unnecessary conversion into SGD.  Airwallex's Payment Links allows businesses to generate and share a secure link with customers, allowing them to easily make payments online.

Airwallex: A tailored solution for SMEs

If you think fintech is more suited to your business’s needs, look no further than the Airwallex all-in-one Business Account. It has the leading technology to help SMEs cut through global competition and achieve their growth targets. With its web and mobile app, entrepreneurs can manage their business anytime, anywhere.

Key features of the Airwallex business account

Overseas transfers

When it comes to international payments, Airwallex combines low costs with fast transfer times.  

Unlike traditional bank accounts, which rely on the SWIFT network for international transfers, Airwallex uses local payment rails on top of SWIFT. This means your foreign currency payouts are treated like local transfers. You don’t get charged international transfer fees, and funds arrive as quickly as 1 business day. 

Cost-effective currency conversion

When SMEs convert currencies through Airwallex, they get access to interbank exchange rates - the competitive rate at which banks trade currencies with each other. 

Historically, only large corporations could access interbank rates through legacy business banks.  Today, access to these rates levels the playing field for small businesses and lets them compete more effectively in the global market.

Integrated financial services that automate your workflow

On top of this, Airwallex has time-saving financial services like batch transfers, expense management, and integrations with Xero. These features automate manual tasks and simplify your financial operations, so you can spend less time on admin and focus on strategic initiatives. 

No account maintenance fees

Airwallex won’t charge you account opening fees, or maintenance fees, or require a minimum maintaining balance. It’s a cost-effective and efficient solution for expanding your reach while simplifying your operations.

Case studies and success stories

Don’t just take our word for it. Discover how these Singapore SMEs have used Airwallex to support their unique needs:

Conclusion

Choosing a business account is critical for the success and scale of any SME. It should do more than streamline daily operations and help you cut costs. The right banking partner must align with your business’s growth trajectory and equip you with tools to get there.

In this context, Airwallex is a strategic choice for businesses poised for growth. By choosing Airwallex, you gain a partner that’s attuned to SMEs’ needs and offers technology to succeed in today’s fast-paced global marketplace.

Discover how Airwallex keeps pace with your aspirations. Open a Business Account today.

Frequently asked questions

1. What qualifies as a business account?

A business account is a specialised banking account for companies of all sizes. It facilitates payments to suppliers, receipt of funds from customers, payroll, and other business-related financial activities. 

To open a business account, you need to submit your UEN, ACRA business profile, and identity documents of company directors.

2. Is a corporate account the same as a business account?

The terms "corporate account" and "business account" are used interchangeably to describe business banking. However, some banks in Singapore differentiate between the two. 

In such cases, corporate accounts are specifically designed for multinational corporations, offering a suite of services that cater to their complex, high-volume financial activities. Business accounts are tailored to meet the needs of SMEs, providing features that suit the simplicity of smaller operations. This distinction allows financial institutions to serve the varied needs of businesses across the spectrum.

3: Which bank is best for business accounts in Singapore?

The best bank for business accounts depends on your specific requirements. Legacy banks like DBS, OCBC, and UOB suit enterprises that need a physical presence and access to loans. If your business values traditional banking relationships, a conventional bank might be your best bet. 

SMEs that operate mostly online or in the global marketplace might find fintech platforms like Airwallex more appealing. Fintech platforms offer more competitive rates, have faster processes, and are built for ease of use.  If your business values digital efficiency, using fintech could be highly beneficial.

4. Do I need a business account as a sole proprietor?

Sole proprietors in Singapore are not required to open a business bank account. However, it is highly recommended. A business account helps you separate personal and business finances, simplifying accounting practices and giving you a clear view of your financial performance.

5. Can anyone open a business account?

No. You can only open a business account if you are a director of your company or an authorised signatory at your company. Additionally, this enterprise must be registered in Singapore. 

6. How much does it cost to open a business bank account in Singapore?

Minimum deposit fees range from SGD 0 - 1,000, depending on the bank. 

7. What is the difference between a personal and a business bank account in Singapore?

In Singapore, a personal bank account is for an individual's day-to-day financial transactions, such as receiving a salary, paying bills, and personal savings. In contrast, a business bank account is meant for a business entity’s financial operations, handling transactions like client payments, supplier invoices, and payroll. 

The key difference lies in their intended use. Business accounts have features suited to commercial activities, such as higher transaction limits and the ability to grant multiple users access, which personal accounts do not offer.

8. Should I link my personal bank account to my business account?

Linking your personal bank account to your business account can simplify cash flow management and simplify transfers across accounts. However, it's important to maintain a clear separation between your personal and business finances for accounting accuracy and tax purposes. Careful consideration should be given to ensure this doesn't compromise the clarity and integrity of your business’s financial records.

This publication does not constitute legal, tax, or professional advice from Airwallex nor substitute seeking such advice, and makes no express or implied representations/warranties/guarantees regarding content accuracy, completeness, or currency.

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Shermaine Tan
Manager, Growth Marketing

Shermaine leads the development and execution of content for businesses in Singapore and the SEA region.

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