Best virtual bank for global startups and SMEs in Asia

With new and newer technologies being developed in this rapidly evolving world with FinTech and cryptocurrency innovations, virtual banks, also called digital banks, are increasing in popularity for startups with a global market reach. They provide a wide array of competitive services that traditional banks had the monopoly on, such as better interest rates, better currency conversion rates, lower transfer and overdraft fees. Plus, some virtual banks offer a lot of those traditional banking services for free!

Virtual banks are a blessing for small businesses in particular, as they enable an international reach while sidestepping the extra exorbitant fees that traditional banks charge. The banking world is entering a new, digitalized era wherein greedy banks no longer hold all the power in their hands. Digital banks provide an excellent opportunity for these small businesses to expand globally and compete with giant corporations, as well as offer adapted services to their clients across various geographical locations.

In this article, we’ll look at the top five key players in the virtual bank industry in Asia and illustrate how they can benefit your business.

1. TransferWise

Founded in 2010, TransferWise is headquartered in London but has a broad international reach. One of the most widely known virtual banks, TransferWise is highly reliable and has an excellent customer service department to assist you with all your needs.

TransferWise supports a wide range of currencies. The full list of currencies that it supports can be found below. Although you can only add money in the bolded currencies below, you can stil convert from those bolded currencies then store it in several others as follows:

AED, ARS, AUD, BDT, BGN, BRL, BWP, CAD, CHF, CLP, CNY, CRC, CZK, DKK, EGP, EUR, GBP, GEL, GHS, HKD, HRK, HUF, IDR, ILS, INR, JPY, KES, KRW, LKR, MAD, MXN, MYR, NGN, NOK, NPR, NZD, PEN, PHP, PKR, PLN, RON, RUB, SEK, SGD, THB, TRY, TZS, UAH, UGX, USD, UYU, VND, XOF, ZAR, ZMW.

TransferWise charges an online transfer fee of 0.7% and updates their exchange rates in real-time. They use mid-market exchange rates, which means that you get the best currency conversion rates available. When it comes to transferring money out of your account, the fee charged depends on the amount being transferred as well as the currency being used, however, TransferWise has some of the lowest rates compared to other virtual banks and offers multiple options for payouts, such as credit cards, apple pay, etc. 

However, for Hong Kong customers, one downside to TransferWise is that while money can be sent from Hong Kong to anywhere, it cannot be deposited. It seems available for Australian and Singaporean customers.

Visit TransferWise: https://transferwise.com

2. Currenxie

Based in Hong Kong, Currenxie was founded in 2014 and has since grown to support up to 14 currencies per account. They also offer personalized customer services to ensure you are fully informed before making any decisions.

Currenxie currently supports the following currencies under their multi-currency account: AUD, CAD, CHF, CNH, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NOK, NZD, SEK, SGD, USD.

They do not charge any set up or maintenance fees, although it can take up to two weeks for your account to get approved depending on the passport you hold. Similar to TransferWise, Currenxie also uses mid-market exchange rates when converting between currencies but their rate is often better then TransferWise. While they do not charge fees for receiving payments, they do charge for foreign exchange conversion with a minimum fee of 25 USD for outgoing payments. Therefore, Currenxie is better suited for larger payments.

Additionally, unlike TransferWise, it allows business owners based in Hong Kong to create global bank accounts to get paid through the platform.

Visit Currenxie: https://currenxie.com

3. Airwallex

Founded in 2015, Airwallex is an Hong Kong-based virtual bank that allows you to open foreign currency accounts in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom as well as various countries in Europe. They currently have eight international offices and a talented team ready to assist you with your every need.

Airwallex currently supports the following currencies: SGD, HKD, CNH, JPY, AUD, CHF, CAD, EUR, GBP, NZD and USD.

A highly business-focused virtual bank, Airwallex charges a fee of 0.5% – 1% on top of the foreign exchange rate when transferring money across currencies. But they also charge a small collection fee of 0.3%for receiving funds which is something we did not find with other players and that makes them less competitive from a pricing standpoint for new clients with low volumes. They also charge a flat rate for transfers from USD $5 to $15 (SWIFT) which makes this solution a bit more suited for large transfers. Airwallex calculates foreign exchange rates based on various factors, including available liquidity in the market, available prices from liquidity providers, and other such market conditions.

Generally, Airwallex offers very low foreign exchange rates but charges collection fees and payout fees to transfer your money. They also have a strict verification process and it may take a long time to get approved.

Visit Airwallex: https://www.airwallex.com

4. CurrencyFair

Headquartered in Ireland and founded in 2009, CurrencyFair has offices all around the globe from Europe to Asia to Australia to ensure customers receive appropriate assistance regardless of their geographic location.

The negative point is that CurrencyFair does not offer global bank account services but they support foreign exchanges in 18 different currencies as listed below:

AUD, EUR, AED, CAD, CHF, CZK, DKK, GBP, ILS, SGD, HKD, HUF, NOK, NZD, PLN, SEK, USD, and ZAR.

CurrencyFair charges a fixed rate of three euros per transfer, or a similar amount if you are using a different currency. They also charge additional fees ranging from 0.25% to 0.6% depending on whether the transfer is made using their marketplace or not. Therefore, they are a better option for those looking to transfer larger amounts of money.

If you’re interested in using CurrencyFair for your business, click on this link to get a 250HKD voucher! This offer is available for anyone who tries their service out.

Visit CurrencyFair: https://www.currencyfair.com

5. Payoneer

One of the first virtual banks, Payoneer was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in New York. With years of experience in this industry, it is a highly reliable and useful virtual bank for businesses. They have 14 offices worldwide to offer quality customer support whenever needed.

Payoneer currently supports the following currencies: USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY and CNH. They also support currency conversions to CZK, PLN, RUB and VND for tax payment purposes. Their foreign exchange rate is the same as the mid-market exchange rate.

In terms of fees, Payoneer is entirely free when receiving payments from other Payoneer customers. When receiving external payments such as credit card payments, charges range from 1% to 3%. Transfering funds from marketplaces and other networks will be charged and this depends on the agreement in place with those marketplaces/networks. 

When making payments, they charge a flat fee of 0.5%. They also charge up to 2% for withdrawal to your local bank account, and a flat rate of 1.50 USD/EUR/GBP if the withdrawal is to a bank account in the same currency as your Payoneer account.

That solution can replace your existing payment gateways like Stripe and offers you an all-in-one global payment solution: Incoming funds from multiple payment types, global bank accounts, currency conversion and global payment. The main drawbacks about Payoneer are the lack of Asian currencies and bank account solutions and that it does not support transferring money using a currency that is the same as your chosen local currency.

Visit Payoneer: https://www.payoneer.com

FLYDESK’s choice

So, there you have it – our top 5 virtual banks for businesses in Asia! Each one has unique features that allow them to provide quality services to their clients so you can decide which one best suits your needs. As we were conducting this research, we noticed a lack of transparency shown by most players regarding pricing which makes us believe that different businesses may get different offers according to the mood of the account manager. 

This pricing complexity makes it hard to compare offers according to your needs. Some players make the registration process a bit tedious and it may take some time for your account to be validated. But the length and complexity of the registration is because these big players are catching the attention of local financial institutions fighting against money laundering.

TransferWise & CurrenXie are our winners!

Through our research, we at FLYDESK have identified our two favorite virtual banks and  global payment partners – TransferWise and CurrenXie due to their ease of use, their competitive collection, conversion and payout rates. However, as TransferWise does not operate for inbound payments in Hong Kong yet, we do recommend CurrenXie for that aspect. Both companies have shown great support and the personal relationship they offer can make a difference in understanding how this complex market works. CurrenXie will be very competitive for large foreign exchange transfers when TransferWise will be better for local and smaller global amount payouts. Both TransferWise & CurrenXie have a mobile App to manage your accounts on the go.

Contact us at FLYDESK if you would like more information about global virtual banking and if you need help in managing your remote organization.

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