The long-awaited third digital bank, MariBank, recently launched its services in Singapore, joining the two other digital banks, GXS Bank and Trust Bank, which are available to retail consumers.
These “digital banks”, unlike traditional banks, operate entirely online without any physical branches. Customers of these digital banks will be able to manage their finances through an app, which will be backed up by a helpline that will be available 24/7. Often times, digital banks do not impose any minimum balance requirement for their savings accounts.
GXS Bank (GXS), a consortium backed by Grab Holdings and Singtel, first began offering its services to a select group of people on 31 August 2022. It claims to have a potential market size of roughly 3 million customers across the Grab and Singtel ecosystems.
Whereas its competitor, Trust Bank (Trust), backed by Standard Chartered Bank and FairPrice Group, launched its services a day later. This enables it to leverage an ecosystem with a potential daily market of about 1 million customers.
The latest digital bank entrant, MariBank is owned by Singapore tech giant Sea Group. It began rolling out its services to employees of Sea Group in the third quarter of 2022 and has made them available to the public on an invite-only basis from 14 March 2023.
With these three banks attracting customers in different ecosystems, here’s what you need to know if you are keen on opening a digital bank account with one of them.
Full Bank Digital Licence Vs Full Bank Licence
GXS and MariBank were the two successful applicants that were awarded digital full bank (DFB) licences by the MAS in December 2020. The DFB licences were granted based on the applicants’ business models’ value proposition, their potential to run a responsible and long-term digital banking business, their growth prospects, and their other contributions to Singapore’s financial centre. These banks would have restrictions in their first one to two years of operation, such as their deposits being capped at $50 million and an initial paid-up capital of $15 million.
On the other hand, Trust has a full bank licence, which allows it to offer a full suite of banking products similar to traditional banks. Standard Chartered Bank, which has a 60% ownership in Trust, was awarded the “Significantly Rooted Foreign Bank” (SRFB) privileges in 2020, which paved the way for establishing Trust Bank with a full bank licence. So, even though Trust is a digital bank, it can offer more banking services, such as cash withdrawals from ATMs in Singapore that are owned by Trust or Standard Chartered Bank.
Nevertheless, the Deposit Insurance Scheme, which is run by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC), protects Singapore dollar deposits in both all three banks for up to $75,000. This is the same amount of protection that you would receive on your deposits with traditional banks.
Read Also: Complete Guide To Trust Bank’s Products And Services
Target Audience Market: Who Can Sign Up?
Though the three banks may want to attract a wide customer base, their initial priority would be to leverage their own ecosystems.
GXS aims to improve the banking services offered to the unbanked and underserved segments, such as entrepreneurs, gig economy workers, and early-jobbers. It also touts itself as a Gen Z bank and seeks to provide its customers with hyper-personalised support as their banking needs and expectations change over time.
Anyone above 16 years old who has a residential address in Singapore and a Singpass Myinfo account can apply for an account with GXS.
Whereas for Trust, it intends to leverage on NTUC and its unions, as well as its other social enterprises beyond FairPrice Group, to bring significant savings on everyday living expenses and better address the needs of workers and their families. Trust also claims to offer a differentiated customer experience that is built specifically for Singapore. Anyone aged 18 and above can apply for a Trust savings account, including foreigners.
The new entrant, MariBank, intends to be deeply integrated into Singapore’s digital economy with young consumers and SMEs through its three platforms: Shopee, Garena, and SeaMoney. For now, MariBank is rolling out its services on an invitation-only basis to those who are either Singapore citizens or permanent residents and are aged 18 and above.
Read Also: [2022 Edition] NTUC Membership: Complete Guide To All The Benefits You Will Receive
Savings Account: How Much Interest Can You Earn?
Though Trust Bank has launched more products, which include a savings account, debit/credit card, and an insurance product, in order to make a fair comparison between all three banks, we will only compare the savings accounts.
GXS is offering 0.08% per annum (p.a.) interest accrued daily on the main savings account. You can also allocate your savings in up to 8 different pockets (also known as Saving Pockets) to save for different goals. These pockets will act as fixed deposits, earning higher interest of up to 3.48% p.a. each, accrued daily. However, there is a total deposit cap of $5,000 across the savings account and pockets.
In comparison, you can earn up to 2.5% interest p.a. on the first $75,000 with a savings account by Trust. This comprises of a 1.5% base interest and a bonus interest of between 0.5% p.a. (for non-NTUC Union members making 5 eligible purchases with Trust card each month) and 1% (for NTUC Union members who make 5 eligible purchases with Trust card each month). For balances above $75,000, you will earn 0.05% interest p.a.
On the other hand, MariBank is offering 2.5% p.a accrued daily on its Mari Savings Account for up to $60,000 of deposits. There is no salary crediting needed nor minimum spending necessary to earn the deposit rate. However, do note that MariBank does not currently issue any debit cards.
|GXS Bank||Trust Bank||MariBank|
|Interest Rates||0.8% – Main Account
3.48% – On up to 8 Savings Pocket each
|1.5% – base interest
0.5% to 1% – bonus interest
|Maximum Deposit||$5,000||– Up to 2.5% p.a. for first $75,000
– 0.05% p.a. above $75,000
|Who Can Sign Up||– At least 16 years old
– have a residential address in Singapore
– have a Singpass Myinfo account
– Have a valid visa
|– 18 years and above
– Singaporeans, PRs, Foreigners
|– 18 years and above
– Singaporeans, PRs
Nevertheless, all three digital banks do not impose any minimum balance or charge their customers any fall-below fees that are typically associated with traditional banks.
Read Also: [2023 Edition] Best Savings Accounts for Working Adults in Singapore
Mobile App: What Are The Key Features?
The mobile applications of the three digital banks can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, while only the MariBank app is also available on Huawei Appgallery.
The GXS app offers a simple and gamified interface that allows you to allocate your savings into personalised pockets for different life goals. It also uses techniques such as visualisation and smart nudges to help its customers develop and sustain a savings habit.
Similarly, the Trust app is also built on state-of-the-art technology, prioritising security when using any of the services on the app. It also allows users to interact 24/7 through the in-app customer service voice and messaging.
Moreover, the Trust app, which you can switch between in English and Mandarin, enables you to see your Linkpoints rebates in real-time and redeem other coupons easily with its in-app spend tracker. You can also control your debit or credit card using the app and see all your transactions, including up to the past 7 years of monthly statements.
Lastly, the MariBank app offers a simple and easy-to-use interface and adopts security tools and processes, including industry standard encryption, identity verification, and fraud monitoring. The app is currently only available in English and allows you to access up to two years’ worth of transaction details.
Sign Up Perks
It is common for new businesses or entrants to an existing market to offer enticing sign-up rewards as a way to quickly gain market share.
In that respect, consumers would have been disappointed by the lack of incentives dangled by both GXS and MariBank. One reason could be that both digital banks are not prepared to launch their services to the masses, as they’re only being rolled out to a small group of users on an invitation-only basis. A second reason could be due to the DFB framework, which doesn’t let digital banks engage in value-destructive competition to gain market share.
On the other hand, Trust has more attractive sign-up rewards, such as a $25 NTUC e-voucher after the first card spend, up to 21% promotional discounts on FairPrice Group spending, and a $10 NTUC e-voucher for each referral. As a result, Trust reached the 100,000-customer milestone within just 10 days of launching its services.
Read Also: I Signed Up For GXS Digibank Using Singtel Dash By Invite Only, Here Are The Steps To Get 3.48% Interest
Choose Based On Your Needs
Each of the three banks seek to serve a different target market by having unique value propositions, which could be useful if you fall into one of these groups.
For example, the GXS might be useful if you do not have any banking services. However, given its slow launch, limited available products, and a small deposit cap, it may not suit the needs of the wider population, who might already have one or more banking accounts.
On the other hand, the Trust might be more relatable to many of us who shop at FairPrice Group. Trust not only offers attractive interest rates on its savings account but also helps to reduce our everyday living expenses with its tie-up with NTUC Linkpoints Rewards system. Moreover, the current enticing sign-up deals could be a big draw for many to start using its services over GXS.
Lastly, even though MariBank offers attractive interest rates and has a high deposit cap, it is currently available on an invite-only basis. This limits the potential benefit to the wider user base in Singapore.
This article was originally published on 14 September 2022 and updated with new information.
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