Digital banks in Singapore

Learn what you need to know about using a digital bank in Singapore, including how to find the right one.

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Digital banking puts your finances at your fingertips 24/7. There’s a host of online banks, digital-only banks and personal finance apps available now, all designed to give you better, faster control of your cash.

We’ve rounded up everything you need to know, so you can decide if digital banks are right for you.

What is a digital bank?

Digital banks (also called challenger banks or neobanks) give you a way to control your money by allowing you to bank entirely from an app on your smartphone, rather than from a physical branch or office. It doesn’t operate on any legacy systems, namely physical infrastructure or digital operating systems, that are already being used by existing financial institutions in Singapore.

With a digital bank, you can sign up to an account in minutes, get your card relatively quickly (and you may get a virtual card), benefit from convenient features such as low foreign currency fees, smart security controls and more.

There are a few digital banks available in Singapore, with more to come in the near future.

Compare digital banks in Singapore

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Monthly fee Card delivery Supported currencies
YouTrip
S$0
5-8 business days

10

Use promo code FINDER5 to earn $5 on signup.

A prepaid Mastercard with no monthly fees, contactless payment features and fee-free transactions in over 150 currencies. NOTE: Promo code valid for new signups and Singapore residents only.
Wirex Visa Card
S$0
5 business days

12

A multi-currency card that supports over 150 currencies, including more than 8 cryptocurrencies at interbank rates.
Aspire Business Account
S$0
3-5 business days

1

A virtual business debit card to help you manage business expenses. No foreign exchange fees and cashback perks of up to 1% on selected spending.
BigPay
S$0
5-7 business days

1

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Compare up to 4 providers

What’s the difference between a digital bank and a traditional bank that’s available online?

Many banks in Singapore appear to be digital banks since they offer top quality mobile banking apps for their customers. However, just because a bank offers a range of digital products and platforms doesn’t mean it’s a digital bank or a neobank.

A bank offering Apple Pay isn't necessarily a digital bank.

Many banks offer contactless payments via digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. For instance, DBS allows its customers to connect their credit and debit cards to these digital wallets, but it’s not considered a neobank.

Similarly, if a bank offers a top-notch mobile banking app, Internet banking services and digital savings tools, this doesn’t automatically mean it’s a digital bank either. Remember, a 100% digital neobank is one that doesn’t use any existing banking systems or infrastructure.

What are the benefits of a digital bank?

There are several perks to using a digital bank. Among them:

  • Fast sign-up. You can usually sign up to a digital bank account in less than five minutes.
  • Low-cost foreign currency and travel spending. These banks usually offer 0% foreign currency spending or allow you to hold multiple currencies in your account at once. If you need to send international money transfers, have friends or family that live overseas, shop at overseas stores or travel, this can save you a lot of money.
  • Smart security features. If you lose or misplace your card you can lock and unlock it in the app.
  • Choice of accounts. Most digital banks offer multiple account options ranging from a $0 account to a premium account. If you want more features, you pay a higher monthly cost.
  • Spend analysis. Digital banking apps are equipped with advanced data analysis features to evaluate where your cash is going. Look for automatic spending categorisation, notifications, alerts and monthly reports.
  • Budget syncing. Use the spending analysis to set up budgets and track progress. The app may allow you to set goals and spend limits to make veering off course more difficult.
  • Automated savings. Some digital banks prioritise stashing cash away. For instance, rounding transactions to the nearest dollar and sending the difference to your savings account.

Why are digital banks starting now in Singapore?

On 29 August 2019, non-banking companies had the opportunity to apply for “digital bank licences” offered by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). The application period was closed at the end of last year and the five licences are expected to be issued in the upcoming months.

What you should know about challenger banks in Singapore

In Singapore, digital banks are expected to utilise technology to reach “under-served” segments of the domestic market to differentiate it from existing banks. This means that some features offered by traditional banks may not be made available to digital banks.

Here are a few things that you may not know about using your mobile as your main point of contact with your bank:

Cash and cheques usually aren’t supported

MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) has stated that digital banks in Singapore are not allowed to access the ATM or cash deposit machine network. This means that you’d need to transfer funds to your digital bank’s account balance through a credit card, debit card or bank transfer.

Managing multiple currencies is easier

Digital banks tend to have better services in terms of foreign currency. Some let you hold multiple currencies in your account while others facilitate faster international transfers at lower fees than standard banks.

Your money may not be protected the same way it is with traditional banks

Not every mobile bank has a full banking licence. In Singapore, MAS only recently announced that the government will issue up to five digital bank licences that non-banking enterprises may apply for – up to two will be digital full bank licences and up to three will be digital wholesale bank licences. However, the digital banking model is not entirely new in Singapore as various lenders or digital payments startups have been allowed to operate with MAS’s remittance licence.

For example, digital bank Revolut has been granted a remittance licence by MAS and operates as a Stored Value Facility holder. This means that Revolut may conduct its mobile banking business in Singapore, but your money may not be covered by a government guarantee. However, there are still safeguards in place as these banks are required to keep your deposits in an account with a separate bank, which you can then claim back if something goes wrong.

Everything is managed on your smartphone

You generally sign up for a bank account in Singapore at a branch, but you also have the option to do it online. With digital banks in Singapore, you can only sign up on your smartphone and most of them don’t provide access to Internet banking from your computer.

You don’t need to panic if you lose your phone or card

A benefit of a digital bank is having full access to your account at all times. Lots of mobile banks allow temporary freezing of your account in the case of a lost card, so if you find it again, it’s not much of a hassle to get a replacement. If you forget your pin, the banking apps also tend to have access to a pin reminder after you complete a couple of security questions.

The fees can be higher

Some mobile banks charge higher monthly fees for premium accounts, which offer additional features such as insurance, discounts, cashback and more.

What are the digital banks available in Singapore?

There are a number of challenger banks available in Singapore, including the following:

  • Revolut. Revolut is a global banking app that offers budgeting tools, international currency exchange, travel insurance, cryptocurrency facilities, virtual cards and more.
  • YouTrip. The first multi-currency wallet in Singapore, YouTrip is a convenient travel wallet linked with a prepaid Mastercard designed for frequent travellers to transact in over 150 currencies without any added fees. YouTrip also offers other features such as payments, currency exchange and forex lock-in rates.
  • Aspire. Aspire is a digital business bank account. You can open an account in a few minutes and save on international transaction fees by receiving or spending in over 40 currencies at the real exchange rate.
  • BigPay. BigPay is an e-wallet app and Mastercard offered by AirAsia and will be available in Singapore soon. It allows you to spend globally for a low cost while earning AirAsia BIG points. You can spend in 150 supported currencies, send money to bank accounts in various countries, use the app to manage your money and benefit from AirAsia privileges.
  • TransferWise. Along with a free debit Mastercard, TransferWise’s multi-currency account allows you to hold up to 28 currencies, conduct money transfers at competitive rates and enjoy fee-free overseas ATM withdrawals.
  • InstaReM. InstaReM’s announced that it’ll be offering a travel-centric forex card that offers competitive foreign exchange rates on overseas spending.

Which contenders have expressed interest for MAS digital banking licence?

Applications for a digital banking licence are being accepted until the end of the year. At the moment, there are 14 shortlisted applicants including Grab, Singtel, Razer and FWD insurance.

How to get started with a digital bank

You can sign up with a digital bank in Singapore by downloading your chosen bank’s app onto your smartphone.

To sign up, you’ll need to provide a few of your personal details, including your full name, date of birth, address and email address. This process typically requires you to take a front and back image of your government-issued ID, as well as a selfie for identity verification.

You will need to confirm your identity and may need to deposit funds into your account to make it active. Then, your bank account will be created.

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