Expand business beyond Singapore with Multi-currency accounts

By
Writers@Aspire
Published
June 30, 2022

Businesses are scaling beyond borders. B2B payments are the largest part of all cross-border payments across the globe. But it comes at a cost. 

You’re always on high alert for exchange rate fluctuations and local banking guidelines make it harder to buy or sell in different currencies. 

As a businessman, you might try opening multiple bank accounts in different countries, but maintaining a minimum balance in all of them may poke a hole in your pocket and it is inconvenient to manage multiple accounts across locations. 

So, how do you overcome these challenges? 

A multi-currency account is a solution. It removes obstacles from cross-border transactions and lets you send and receive payments in your preferred currencies without worrying about conversion rate fluctuations.  

Let’s understand what a multi-currency account is and how it works for your business. 

What are multi-currency accounts?

A multi-currency account lets you send, receive and hold payments in multiple currencies. It lets you avoid fluctuating conversion rates that can get costly at times. 

A normal bank account automatically converts international currencies into local ones which —depending on the conversion rate at that time —may cause you to lose money.  

With multiple currency accounts, you can hold foreign currency in your account and convert it when you please — basically when the conversion rates are in your favour. 

How do multi-currency accounts work?

A multi-currency account acts as an international checking account with multiple sub-accounts for different currencies. It allows an account number for each currency so you send and receive payments in that account. Your personal details such as name and SWIFT code remain the same for all currencies that you hold. 

It supports regular banking actions such as:

  • Money withdrawal
  • Sending and receiving payments
  • Access funds with cheques and e-wallets
  • Earn interest (depending on the service provider)

You can open a multiple currency account in Singapore that supports your preferred currencies like USD, EUR, GBP, AUD and many more. The number of currencies depends on your service provider which ranges from 10-150 currencies across the globe.

A multi-currency account saves you time, money and sanity on international payments, which brings us to our next point - benefits for your business.

Benefits of a multi-currency account in Singapore 

A multi-currency business account is very useful if your business sends or receives payments internationally, buys or sells goods in multiple locations across borders or has a global workforce/vendors/consultants. It enables you to send and receive payments hassle-free under one account. 

Here are the benefits of a multi-currency account for your business:

Single Account for all international transactions

Some businesses open multiple bank accounts in different countries to send and receive payments in local currencies. But it adds the burden of maintaining a minimum balance in each one of them and is inconvenient too.

A multi-currency account allows you to create sub-accounts for different currencies. You can share the unique account number for each currency and send or receive payments easily which is very convenient.

Save Money on Foreign Exchange Costs

Saving currency conversion costs is the chief benefit of a multi-currency account.  When you receive an international payment, banks need to convert them into your local currency. They deduct money as per the ever-changing foreign exchange rates.

The fee may seem small for one transaction but it sums up to a significant amount in the long run. A multi-currency account allows you to receive the payment in the foreign currency and hold it till the conversion rate is favourable. It eliminates the market uncertainty so you never lose money due to high conversion rates. 

Reduced Waiting Time

Merchants often hold receivables because the conversion rates are not in their favour. But with a multi-currency account, you can send or receive money anytime and convert it later.

Smooth International Transactions

As much as you’d love to send and receive money in your own currency, that’s not always the option. Both vendors and customers want to steer clear of foreign exchange risk. With a  multi-currency account, you can accept payments in your client or customer’s local currency and pay vendors in their preferred currencies. No more eyeing the conversion rates before every single international payment. 

How to open a multi-currency account in Singapore?

You can open a multi-currency account offline, at physical branches or sign up for a digital account. Generally, if you choose offline, you may be required to visit a  branch, fill out forms and open an account with a set initial deposit. If you fall below the minimum balance, you’ll be charged a fall below fee. Although, the process becomes easier if you already have an account with the provider.

Digital accounts are easier to create as compared to offline mode. To open a digital account, you need to:

  • Register online using your Email.
  • Provide personal information such as name, number and address 
  • Verify the information with a government-issued ID
  • Your account is live once verified 

Eligibility criteria to open a multi-currency account in Singapore

Eligibility for a multi-currency account in Singapore depends on your service provider. However, all businesses registered in Singapore are eligible for a multi-currency account. Foreign businesses can also open multi-currency accounts with the providers that support their local currency.  

All business owners must submit government-issued identity proof and initial deposit —to those who require it —before opening a multi-currency account in Singapore. 

Make sure you check the eligibility criteria and documents required on your service provider’s official website. 

Charges involved in a multi-currency account 

A multi-currency account comes with its own set of charges depending on the service provider. Below are the different types of charges that you incur in your multi-currency account. 

Remember that each institution has its own set of charges. Banks, Neo banks and fintech account providers differ in what kind of fees they may take or exclude.

Set up fee

Each service provider charges a setup fee for a multi-currency account. Basically an account opening fee.

Initial Deposit

You must submit an initial deposit before making transactions from your multi-currency account. The limit for this deposit varies as per the service provider and currencies required.

Account fee

Some providers charge a fixed monthly account fee which is deducted at the beginning or end of each month. It ranges from $2-$15.  

Fall below fee/ Service Charge

Some banks require multi-currency account holders to maintain a minimum balance. Falling below that can cost you money which is called “fall below” fees or service charges. 

These charges are deducted on a daily or monthly minimum balance depending on the service provider’s guidelines. Most fintech companies don't require a minimum balance so there’s also no fall below fees. 

Cash Conversion Fee

All service providers charge a currency conversion fee whenever you convert SGD into another currency or vice versa. Some providers charge more if you convert currencies outside of exchange market hours. 

Cash Holding Fee

Some providers charge an amount to hold money above a certain limit. For instance, Wise charges 0.07% to hold more than 30,000 EUR in your account. The percentage is deducted monthly for Wise but it may vary depending on the service provider. 

Card Transaction Fee

You get a physical debit card or a virtual card with your multi-currency account and there are charges for its usage. These charges involve ATM fees, conversion fees and withdrawal fees which vary with currency and service provider. 

Check out all the fee details before choosing a service provider. One may charge a percentage for a service which the other may provide for free. Fee structure differs based on subscriptions, plan type and currencies offered. 

Who offers multi-currency accounts in Singapore?

Compare multiple service providers to choose the best multi-currency account in Singapore. The process and requirements differ for each of them. You can enjoy more than 60 different currencies depending on what provider you choose. 

There will be different benefits and charges for each of them. For instance, banks charge a percentage or fixed amount for various account actions such as service charges and withdrawal charges. 

Some providers offer physical and virtual cards which come in handy if you want to purchase something from a small vendor or use for business travel expenses. However, fixed charges apply for all card transactions. Some providers come with no minimum balance required  while some offer integration with accounting software for easy invoicing and reconciliation. Choose a provider whose features align with your business.

Below is the list of the best multi-currency accounts in Singapore:

  • DBS - DBS multi-currency account supports 10 currencies including INR, CAD, HKD and GBP. It has multiple options for cross-border transactions such as Multiplier account and E-multi currency autosave account. DBS has separate features and fees for Singaporean and foreign multi-currency bank accounts. 
  • OCBC - OCBC multi-account lets you trade in 13 currencies including USD, EUR, CAD and AUD. There’s no initial deposit or minimum balance for a ‘business growth account’ but for a ‘business entrepreneur account plus’ you have to maintain a minimum balance of S$30,000 with $50 falling below the charge. It offers a quick deposit of foreign currencies and simple visualisation of your cash flow. 
  • UOB - UOB multi-currency account supports 10 currencies including NZD, EUR and HKD and offers free cheques and ATM cards. It also allows 3-day cheque clearing for global currency accounts with US dollars. Visit one of their branches to open a UOB multi-currency account. Some branches offer online application forms which you have to submit along with an initial deposit and NRIC. 
  • Aspire - Aspire lets you transact 30+ currencies in 130+ countries and allows free local transfer in SGD and USD. It offers unique account numbers so you can make payments easily and invoice your global customers in their preferred currencies. 
    Unlike many banks, there’s no minimum balance or fall below fees. The best part is, Aspire offers multiple free finance tools like spend management and receivable and payment management so you’re always up to date with your expenses. You can sign up to Aspire and get started with borderless payments at 4 times cheaper FX rates than banks and also offers efficient integrations with leading accounting software. 

  • Wise - Wise multi-currency account lets you transact currencies in 70 countries and charges a fixed transaction and currency conversion fee. You can open a Wise multi-currency account online. You can make payments with the Wise debit card or mobile in Singapore and abroad. Wise offers two free ATM withdrawals of up to S$350 a month. After which, you’re charged 1.75% if you withdraw more than $350 and S$1 if you withdraw more than twice in a month. 
  • Revolut - Revolut Standard multi-currency account comes with additional features like expense management and bill splitting. There’s no monthly subscription fee but Revolut charges 0.5% on major currencies on the weekdays and a 1% markup on the weekends since the market is closed. Also, cash withdrawals from your multi-currency accounts in Singapore are not available. 
  • Wirex - Wirex Standard multi-currency acts as a hybrid between traditional banking and cryptocurrency platforms as it lets you buy, sell and transfer cryptocurrencies. The Wirex standard account supports 12 currencies including AUD, HKD, JPY and CZK. With a card fee of S$5, it charges an additional 2% domestic and international ATM fee above the withdrawal of $400. ATM withdrawal is limited to $400 per month. It also provides instant notifications each time a transaction is made. 
  • YouTrip - YouTrip is a mobile wallet that lets you transact 150 currencies. Mastercard charges an exchange rate for each transaction. It lets you withdraw money from all Mastercard ATMs overseas. Use YouTrip to keep an eye on your balance and transaction details.  You can reload your wallet balance through any Singapore-based debit or credit card or PayNow.

Scale your business with cross border payments 

Cross-border payments help you scale your business quickly and efficiently. Don’t let high exchange fees take away from growth. Join Aspire to enjoy borderless payments with the lowest FX fees, unlimited virtual cards, and tools like spend management, and payable management and receivable management so you can manage your business finances more efficiently as you grow.. 

Combine smooth international transactions with effortless financial management to make smarter business decisions. Sign up to Aspire today!

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