Aspire Review: Best Business Bank Account for SMEs in Singapore

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Starting a new business or a side hustle can be harder than it looks. Everyone has ideas, but not everyone can execute his or her strategy flawlessly. One of the first basic administrative tasks to do when founding a startup is to set up a business bank account in Singapore. Keeping your business transactions separate from personal ones is without a doubt one of the best practices to good financial management. Unfortunately, setting a corporate bank account was not exactly a seamless process – endless paperwork, demands for branch visits, ridiculously high fx rates and fees – until Aspire came in.. Aspire is the 1st business neobank in Singapore to offer a digital Business Account for SMEs, where all processes and features, including the onboarding process, are held entirely online on its platform.

Note: A neobank is similar to a bank, just that it operates exclusively online without the traditional physical branches. This translates to more convenience and cost-savings for the end-user. 

You should be able to guess that we have nothing but praise for the Aspire Business Account by now, so here’s why we are not sitting on the fence for this one!

Aspire’s Background 

Aspire is Southeast Asia’s first business neobank to offer modern entrepreneurs and digital-savvy businesses with convenience and simplicity to manage their business within a single account. 

Unlike traditional banks, you no longer need to queue physically, sign a ton of forms and all the other niceties (such as waiting for an entire week for the inefficient approving officer to process your application) before finally opening a bank account. 

Opening an account is free, can be done in 5 minutes and has no minimum deposit. It is literally the fastest approval time the Guidesify team has experienced.

Of course, the Aspire business account comes with a sleek design to top the great user experience off.

The account comes with a virtual debit card to offer cashback on digital marketing and SaaS spend. Other product offerings include the best-in-market FX rates and access to a credit line to grow your business.

Simply put, Aspire is your all-in-one service for SMEs, entrepreneurs and side hustlers!

Perks of using Aspire as compared to traditional Singapore Banks

Going digital and starting an Aspire account brings a lot more to the table than just a fast and easy onboarding process. 

Here’s a quick overview of Aspire vs some of the other alternative business bank accounts available in Singapore (extracted from Aspire’s comparison table):

 AspireDBSOCBCUOBMaybank
Account FeesNoneS$18 monthly, min. Deposit of S$1,000S$10 monthlyS$2.91 monthly, min. Deposit of S$1,000, min. Balance of S$10,000, S$35 fall-below feesMin. deposit of S$1,000
Local TransfersFreeS$0.50 FAST,
S$10 Standing Instruction
S$10 Standing InstructionS$0.50 FAST,
S$10 Standing Instruction
S$0.20 FAST,
S$10 Standing Instruction
Foreign TransfersPowered by TransferWise at mid-market ratesFrom S$30 with a 0.47% markupFrom S$35 with a 0.46% markupFrom S$40 with a 0.48% markupFrom S$40 with a 0.91% markup
Card Type and feesVirtual Visa Debit, 0.7% on Visa ratesVisa Debit, 3.72%Visa Debit, 3.71%Visa Debit, 3.73%Visa Debit, 3.66%
Card Cashback 1.0%* (explained below)0.3%0.2%0.3%N/A
Payment AcceptanceFAST, GIRO, PayNow (on roadmap)FAST, GIRO, Cheque, PayNowFAST, GIRO, Cheque, PayNowFAST, GIRO, Cheque, PayNowFAST, GIRO, Cheque, PayNow
Customer Support Phone, Email, Online chatPhone, EmailPhone, EmailPhone, EmailPhone, Email

It’s pretty safe to say that Aspire is far superior to any of the common business bank accounts and is way ahead in the game. 

No more hefty fees and no more waiting on overcrowded customer hotlines -you can now focus on what truly matters in your business.

Interested in a more in-depth comparison across more Singapore bank accounts? You can request a comprehensive chart from Aspire here.

Walkthrough of the Account Opening Process 

You will get your account verified in a matter of minutes. 

Yep, you heard that right. Minutes when you sign up with MyInfo. 

Check out the few simple steps (that are tried and tested) you would need to undertake to sign up for the account. For now, only a director of the business can register for an Aspire account.

All that is required would be for you to choose the Aspire product you are looking for and review your application with the information retrieved from MyInfo.

Shortly after a few simple clicks, your information will be retrieved and sent for verification.

True enough, Guidesify got our account verified in a matter of minutes and honestly, it was pretty impressive. 

Do note that it can take up to 24 hours to get verified if you choose the other option of submitting documents, instead of using MyInfo.

Aspire App Features 

Aspire Card + 1% Cashback 

The Aspire Card is a completely free Visa Debit virtual card linked to your Aspire Business Account. This card can be used for any transaction that accepts Visa Debit as a payment method, Google Pay payments included!

Once your Aspire account is approved and opened, the virtual card is for you to spend. 

So there’s no waiting for the card to be sent to you via snail mail before you start spending. 

Cardholders will enjoy low fx fees when making international transactions, and 1% cashback on online marketing and SaaS spend. The cashback promotions apply when you make transactions with qualifying merchants, such as Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Shopify, AWS, Google Suite and many more

Don’t see your favourite merchants on the list? Simply nominate them to be one of the top 20 most requested merchants!

Power up your Aspire account with seamless integration options (Gpay, Xero, etc)

Yeah, there are many multi-currency/travel cards that offer the ability to integrate with your phone’s Tap and Pay feature.

But have you ever seen a business card do the same? Or better, is there a business card that tracks expenses digitally and automatically syncs with your business’s accounting platform?

No, not really, but there is now.

The Aspire card is one of the first business cards to be able to integrate effortlessly with Google Pay. Granted that there are alternatives that may offer such an option for business accounts too, let’s not forget that the said alternatives pale in comparison in terms of FX rates and a slow account approval and card issuance time (tbh nobody can beat 5 minutes to have everything set up for your business). 

Since it is completely digital, there is no need to worry about messy papers.

Just remember to bring your phone out if you are purchasing at your local merchants’ stores.

Is that all?

No. 

Aspire allows their users to integrate their transaction records automatically with Xero, which means no more extra work when spending and receiving money on the app.

Simply follow the six-step integration guide with Xero and users should see that their past transactions (up to 1 year) are automatically synced with Xero, as well as any future transaction on an hourly basis.

Lowest FX Rates A Business Can Enjoy

Powered by Transferwise, Aspire Business Accounts offer the lowest FX fees in the market, up to 7x cheaper than most banks that can transact across 50+ currencies.

While you would be receiving your own SGD bank details when you open your Aspire account, it is important to note that at time of writing, only remitting FX is done via TW in app/on the Aspire platform.

Receiving FX for now is still limited, and users have to receive it on the TW platform itself. 

In Need of a Credit Line? Aspire got that covered as well.

To make things more wholesome, Aspire also supports Singaporean businesses with a low-interest and up to S$300k working line of credit. 

And there are no monthly fees involved in this. 

As with any financial service offering credit, due diligence is a vital step in the process, so applicants are required to submit all relevant documents.

An Aspire Account with an approved credit limit gives you access to a revolving credit facility with which you can make Withdrawals and Pay your vendors.

Interest rates can go as low as 1% per month and processing fees are between 1-4% based on the amount drawn. The exact interest rate and processing fee will depend on your business financials and are subjected to Aspire’s discretion. 

Final Thoughts

Being an SME ourselves, it was truly a hassle to set up a coveted bank account for the company.

Our calls were redirected to different bank branches, applications were reverted several times and we still had to queue in line along with everyone else for hours just to open a bank account.

It got us thinking, is that how we really want to spend our time when running a business?

Hence, there was definitely a huge gap in this area until…of course when Aspire came into the picture.

Aside from the 5 minutes of your life, Aspire takes nothing from you when setting up an account. 

Drawbacks

However, the Aspire business account currently does not allow users to register their UEN for PayNow, although this is subject to changes and PayNow seems to be on the Aspire’s roadmap/to-do-list. Also, it can be a slight inconvenience too if your local merchants do not accept Google Pay at their stores.

We didn’t think that the absence of a chequebook is a downside to Aspire since cheques are pretty much a thing of the past. Stop using it and start embracing the future!

Think there are additional features Aspire should have? 

It is also heartening to see and know that Aspire is a modern company that takes feedback seriously to continuously improve. Aspire has a closely-monitored forum where you can give suggestions and from there, you can see the progress and reply to your suggestion. 

Keep Aspiring!

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