Aspire Business Account Singapore [In-depth Review]

Priscilla Lee
Updated:
Aspire Business Account Review: Will It Work For You?

Aspire is the first neobank in Singapore to offer digital business accounts to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

If you own a startup or SME, their services should pique your interest: Aspire’s value-add is in resolving the pain points many business owners feel when working with local banks, like the need to maintain a minimum balance and marked up foreign exchange rates.

The modern business platform also eliminates paperwork, long waiting times, and the lack of integration that legacy banks often get away with.

In this article, we’ll cover details about Aspire to help you decide if it’s right for your business. We’ll explore:

What Is Aspire and How Does It Work?

Aspire is a neobank based in Singapore with teams in Indonesia and Vietnam.

What’s a neobank, you ask? It’s basically a digital bank that operates without physical branches. The low overheads means they can invest more into solving real problems for entrepreneurs, which leads to greater convenience and cost savings for Aspire business account holders.

This may seem like a novel concept in this region, but Aspire has already raised US$40 million from various investors and serves over 10,000 businesses — including well-known local brands like Circles.Life, HipVan, and TechInAsia.

Clearly, it’s gearing itself up to be a game-changer in fintech.

How Safe is Aspire?

Of course, the lack of a physical bank branch may feel a little sketchy, to say the least.

Here’s some reassurance: Aspire operates under the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) Payment Services Act. If you bank with Aspire, your funds will be kept in a Tier 1 partner bank (specifically, DBS) and insured by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Scheme (SDIC).

They also use the highest digital encryption and access protocols, so all transactions are secure and only you have access.

How Aspire Works

Unlike with traditional banks, you don’t need to queue for services or submit paperwork for every transaction. Aspire allows you to get everything done online, speeding up processing and approval times. In fact, it takes only five minutes to apply for a new account!

Opening a New Account: To open an Aspire account, simply key in your name, email, and mobile number at the Aspire website to get started. You’ll need a registered business (and be the director of said business) before you can register an account.

Once you’ve submitted the information, you’ll receive an OTP on your mobile phone for verification purposes. From there, you’ll indicate the type of business solutions you require and then go through MyInfo (authentication through SingPass) for the rest of your application and verification.

Voila!  Your application is done!

Local and International Payments: Both local and international transfers are free — a big draw considering legacy banks will typically charge you per transfer. Aspire also partners with Wise to offer its users low mid-market FX rates, whereas you’ll pay a markup for the same FX transactions elsewhere.

Business Expense Management: You can keep track of business spending in real-time using the Aspire app. It can even sync with accounting software like Quickbooks, eliminating a bit of administrative tedium from your workflow.

Line of Credit: Aspire extends a revolving loan that works like a credit card: you can pay vendors or partners upfront, then pay off the loan once revenue comes in. 

Virtual Visa Business Card: Aspire Business account holders get a virtual Visa debit card that earns 1% cashback on marketing. It also lets users spend with Visa rate that’s much lower than what you’ll find with legacy banks.

Key Features and Benefits

Here are key features and benefits worth noting:

Aspire FeaturesBenefits
Borderless paymentsEasy, fast, and transparent payments locally and internationally
Online application and transactions; fast approvalsNo need to queue at a physical bank, saving you from long wait times
Foreign account openingThe only solution for foreigners who want to set up a business bank account without having to travel to Singapore
Issue corporate cards quicklyOnboard team members quickly. Easily track team expenses with real-time notifications
Tailor each staff member’s roles and permissionsGreater control of users’ access limits to prevent misuse of funds or company’s account information
No minimum deposit Allows you to make more effective use of funds to build your business
No monthly feesCost savings that add up over time
Free local transfers and competitive mid-market FX ratesMore cost savings
Earn cashback1% cashback for all major digital marketing services for businesses, offsetting your operating and marketing costs
Partner rewards Exclusive rewards from platform partners to offset operating and marketing costs
Integrates with third-party business softwareEasy to automate, improving your efficiency and productivity. You can easily pay invoices, optimise cash flow, and manage bills on one platform
Access to the Aspire credit lineSimplify the process of getting additional funds for business expansion

Fees and Currency Exchange Rates

Are there hidden fees you need to look out for when using Aspire?  Let’s do a quick comparison:

Account Opening AspireDBSOCBCUOB
Monthly fees S$0S$18S$10S$2.91
Minimum deposit S$0S$1,000S$0S$1,000
Minimum balance S$0S$0S$0S$10,000
Fall-below fees  S$0 S$0S$35S$0
Local Transfers    
FAST transfersS$0(until Dec 2021)S$0.50 S$0 S$0.50 
Scheduled transfersS$0S$10 S$10 S$5 

FX Rates

Aspire’s partnership with Wise means they can offer the lowest mid-market rates across 50+ currencies. These interbank rates mean incoming or outbound foreign transfers with Aspire will always be cheaper than traditional banks, which typically mark up an additional 0.3% to 20%. 

Here’s a comparison with three of our local banks:

Foreign TransfersAspireDBSOCBCUOB 
Outbound – FX rateNo markup, mid-market rate0.47% average markup0.46% average markup0.48% average markup
Outbound – Transfer feeLow transparent feeFrom S$30From S$35From S$30 
Inbound – FX rateNo markup, Reuters buy rates1.14% average markup1.59% average markup1.64% average markup
Inbound – Transfer fee0.5%S$10S$10S$10 
Visa debit card FX rate0.7% on Visa rates3.72%3.71%3.73%

Aspire Business Card, Cashback, and Credit Line

At this point you’ll only have a virtual Aspire Visa debit card to work with, though they promise to offer a physical card soon. These cards allow you to set and freeze team spending limits so you can better manage expenses (and prevent someone from running off with your funds).

Besides the features already mentioned, Aspire virtual debit cards offer:

  • No sign-up or annual fee
  • Advanced fraud protection
  • Add card to mobile wallets, such as Google Pay

Cashback on Digital Card Spend

The Aspire card comes with many perks not available with regular bank cards.  Not only do you enjoy low FX rates when making cross-border transactions, but you’re also entitled to 1% cashback on online marketing and SaaS spend, including:

Online Marketing:

  • Facebook Advertising
  • Google Advertising
  • LinkedIn Advertising 

SaaS:

  • Amazon Web Services
  • Active Campaign
  • Google Suite
  • HelloSign
  • Hubspot
  • Quickbooks
  • Salesforce
  • Shopify

Check out the full list here. If your preferred merchants are not on the list, you can even nominate them by submitting a request on Aspire’s website.

Aspire Revolving Line of Credit

This is another reason Aspire is a great option for SMEs: getting access to extra working capital is a lot easier. Plus, Aspire also has fewer eligibility requirements and no specific operational or financial requirements, making it very attractive for lean startups.

Best of all, you can secure working capital with 10-20x higher limits in as quickly as 48 hours.

How much? Aspire offers a revolving line of credit of up to S$300,000 with an interest rate between 1% to 3.9% per month and an admin fee of up to 4%.

You only pay interest on what you withdraw, and you save on interest when you repay early. There’s even an option to customise credit solutions for revenue-generating tech companies.

So, who is eligible to apply?

  • A business that’s incorporated in Singapore
  • Has a minimum 6 months of operations
  • Applicant must be a director

Rewards From Platform Partners

With Aspire, you can redeem rewards such as: 

  • 10% off Microsoft Business standard
  • 33% off GoDaddy products
  • 90% discount on HubSpot services
  • 20% off Shopee ads
  • 90% discount on Hubspot and many more

Up to $50,000 in potential rewards makes Aspire an appealing option.

Integrations With Top Business Software

No more manually checking bank statements, invoices, and your accounting books. Aspire integrates directly with many third-party business software, so you can set up automation to save you work.

Here are the three main types of software Aspire integrates with:

Accounting – SAP, Xero, QuickBooks, MYOB and NetSuite

E-commerce payment processing – Receive payouts directly into your Aspire account via online partners such as Shopify, Shopee, Lazada, Stripe and Paypal. Aspire can also gather business insights and payment details for data analysis

Mobile wallets – Your Aspire card can connect with Google Pay and Apple Pay (in the near future) to make payments on the move. The Aspire card is one of the first business cards to integrate with Google Pay and offer mid-market exchange rates

Limitations of Aspire 

While there are many upsides to having an Aspire account, it does have a few flaws you may want to take note of:

  1. No ATM withdrawals or cheque deposits. This isn’t as big a deal for digital businesses, but it’s inconvenient if your business relies a lot on cash and cheques.
  2. You can’t register your business UEN for PayNow. This is in the pipeline for the future, but the lack of this option may affect businesses reliant on PayNow.  

Inspiring Businesses to Achieve More

Given that we’re now in a digital economy, neobanks like Aspire will soon become the cornerstone that will reshape traditional banking. In sum, the Aspire business account could be an ideal option for:

  • Businesses that need a bank account that can seamlessly integrate with their operations
  • Businesses that have significant digital spend and see value in working with partners in the rewards list
  • Businesses that deal regularly with foreign payables and receivables