OCBC is first Singapore bank to offer fully digital account opening services for foreigners

SINGAPORE – Foreigners looking to relocate to Singapore have another banking option as OCBC launches a fully digital account opening service for consumers in its key markets.

The service, announced on Thursday, will enable individuals from Malaysia, Indonesia, mainland China and Hong Kong to open Singapore-dollar and multi-currency accounts on the OCBC Digital app remotely and within minutes.

This is expected to speed up the relocation process, as having a bank account in Singapore will allow them to settle their salary crediting and accommodation arrangements more conveniently.

OCBC said that currently, it typically takes days or even weeks for foreigners to open a bank account in Singapore as they would need to physically visit a bank branch to produce physical documentation for verification. This could be time-consuming and delay their ability to settle into the country.

Beyond everyday banking services, a Singapore bank account will also offer all the features of the OCBC Digital app to foreign customers, including its wealth management services and promotional interest rates.

OCBC said: “Such digital wealth management services are sought after, with OCBC’s foreign customers in Singapore who have started investing through the OCBC Digital app increasing four-fold from 2020.”

The bank added that the launch of the service is timely, as more foreigners are coming to Singapore to work, study and live. According to data from the Singapore Department of Statistics, from 2021 to 2022, this segment grew by 6.6 per cent.

“As borders reopen post-pandemic and given Singapore’s strong infrastructure and status as a financial hub, this growth is likely to continue,” OCBC said.

Consequently, the bank expects the monthly average of foreigners who open an OCBC Singapore bank account in 2024 to be four times that of 2022.

OCBC head of global consumer financial services Sunny Quek said: “As more individuals relocate to Singapore to live, work and study, there has been a corresponding increase in demand for banking services.

“By providing them with a seamless and secure way to open an OCBC account, we hope that they will be able to get settled and integrate into Singapore life more quickly.”

While OCBC said it is the first local bank to introduce a fully digital process for foreign customers, international banks with offices both in Singapore and abroad already provide remote pre-arrival account opening services to their clients. These include banks such as HSBC.

HSBC told The Straits Times that foreigners can apply for an account before arriving in Singapore, without the need for branch visits.

“In addition, since January 2023, international customers that have just arrived and have yet to set up a SingPass account in Singapore can apply for and receive access to a HSBC bank account within minutes via their mobile.”

 

Image: ST FILE

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