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Alternatives to N26: A list of similar banks and apps
N26 is not available in Singapore, but here are alternatives which you could try.
Compare digital banks available in Singapore
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
What is N26?
N26 is a German-born digital bank that’s available in a number of countries across Europe, as well as the US. It offers users a free basic current account and a debit card, with a full suite of banking features including overdraft, investment products and premium accounts for a monthly fee.
However, N26 hasn’t launched in Singapore so you’ll not be able to sign up for an account. There are plenty of other options though, which we’ve rounded up here.
What is the Payment Services Act?
The Payment Services Act (PSA) is a licensing framework for payment systems and payment service providers in Singapore, which came into force on 28 January 2020. According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the PSA is intended to provide regulatory certainty, consumer safeguards and promote confidence in the use of e-payments, without stifling fintech innovation.
Under the PSA, fintech firms can only allow their users to hold up to a maximum of S$5,000 (or its foreign currency equivalent) in their accounts at any point in time. In addition, users can only transact up to S$30,000 (or its foreign currency equivalent) during a 12-month period.
With such limitations currently in place, e-wallet companies in Singapore can only serve as an alternative payment service provider. If you’re looking for a savings account in Singapore, take a look at some of the best savings account options in our guide.
Providers like N26 for day-to-day banking
Unfortunately, none of the payment service providers in Singapore is licensed to provide banking accounts – except the five new winners of Singapore’s first digital bank licenses.
At the time of writing (2 August 2021), recipients of the two digital full bank (DFB) licenses and three digital wholesale bank (DWB) licenses are still in the Entry Phase. They expected to commence operations in early 2022.
Following that, MAS will also review whether more digital banking licenses will be issued to other companies.
Best payment service provider for finance management
In the meantime, those looking for a mobile app to track expenses and better manage finances on the go can consider Revolut. It certainly offers the broadest set of features and a well-structured mobile app, including:
- Free prepaid debit card. Receive a free physical card, a virtual card and a disposable virtual card that allows you to spend in over 150 currencies at the interbank exchange rate.
- Debiting account. You can set up recurring payments, transfer or request funds and withdraw cash at international ATMs. You’ll be able to view your balance on a spending-visualisations screen. Do note that you can only hold up to a maximum of S$5,000 in your account at any point in time.
- Spend analytics. Benefit from advanced spend analytics and expense categorisation designed to help you stay on top of your finances.
- Saving goals. If you’re looking to achieve different saving goals, you can manually or automatically set aside funds using Revolut’s sub-account feature known as ‘Vaults’.
- Budgeting tools. Automatically generate a daily spending limit that you should stick to in order to meet your goals, based on the monthly budget you indicated.
- Bill-splitting. A bill-splitting function spares you the awkwardness of asking someone to pay you back.
Providers like N26 for travelling and international transfers
The challengers mentioned above easily beat most traditional banks when it comes to making purchases abroad, simply because they don’t charge a foreign currency transaction fee.
The foreign currency transaction fee is a percentage that’s added to all your payments made in another currency by most traditional banks; it can be up to 3% of the transaction, which makes your holiday bank charges pretty expensive.
Instead, fee-free card spending abroad is a given with challengers, so you’ll need to look at other features to compare them:
- ATM withdrawals. Compared to Revolut Standard, Wirex offers a slightly higher fee-free overseas ATM withdrawal limit of S$400 per month on all tiers. However, Revolut’s paid plans – Premium and Metal don’t charge for overseas ATM withdrawals for amounts up to S$700 or S$1,050 per month respectively. Thereafter, both providers charge a 2% fee on subsequent amounts withdrawn.
- International money transfers. That’s where Revolut gets really competitive – if you need to send money abroad often, you may want to reconsider the idea of looking for an alternative. You can transfer money in 28+ currencies at the interbank rate for no fees, up to S$5,000 a month.
- Multi-currency wallet. You can hold a balance or make an exchange in the app in 28 currencies.
Our pick for travelling and international transfers: Revolut
When it comes to all foreign currency things, the choice is between Revolut and Wirex. For travelling, Wirex tops the league, because if you go somewhere where cash is still the main payment method – as is the case for many countries outside of Europe – you can conduct fee-free cash withdrawals from overseas ATMs for up to S$400 per month (which is S$50 more than Revolut Standard’s fee-free withdrawal limit).
On the other hand, fee-free money transfers (especially in Europe) are Revolut’s speciality – everyone else, including dedicated money transfer companies, charge at least a small fee. So if you also need to send money out of the country every now and then, Revolut is probably your best option.
Providers like N26 for saving
If you’re only looking for top interest-paying savings accounts, know that there are currently no challengers in Singapore offering interest on account balances.
Instead, you should probably take a look at what traditional banks offer – most of which comes with an online banking platform and mobile app as well.
Are digital payment service providers safe?
The short answer is yes – all of the payment service providers we’ve mentioned are registered with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and are fully authorised to do what they do.
- Segregated accounts. Licensees under MAS’ Payment Services Act are required to safeguard their client funds by holding them in segregated accounts with global banking partners – this means that it can’t be used to pay the company’s debt and is thus safe in case of bankruptcy.
- Payment card network processors. Card payments are protected from fraud, loss and theft under the scheme rules for Visa or MasterCard.
The bottom line
Since N26 has yet to offer its services in Singapore, you’ll have to look elsewhere for a digital-only banking account. As our guide highlights, there are some great alternatives out there in the Singapore market, and you can compare them before choosing one that best suits your banking needs.Back to top
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