The 14 Best Digital Banks In Hong Kong And Singapore

digital banks hong kong and singapore

Recent years have seen a virtual banking trend sweep across much of the world, and South East Asia is no exception. New financial institutions have emerged that use digital platforms to offer new approaches to banking and challenge traditional institutions’ status quo.

These digital banks offer an entirely digital service with no physical branches, and the need for branches is replaced by dedicated 24/7 customer service and automated systems. In many parts of the world, these challenger banks’ popularity has pushed traditional institutions to launch digital versions of their own financial products. 

However, you may be wondering what digital banking is like across Hong Kong and Singapore, and how it compares to the service that traditional banks have already established.

By researching dozens of mobile challenger banks from Asia and worldwide, we have come up with a list of the best digital-only banks. We’ll start with the best banks for each category and move on to see what are the best digital banks in general.  

Despite sometimes being formed by companies outside of the finance sector, South East Asia’s digital banking services operate with a digital banking license. However, in many South East Asia areas, it is early days for such licenses, and the initial rounds of digital banking licenses have only recently been granted. 

Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority have quickly caught up with fintech innovations and are licensing digital banks faster. Digital banks offer an entirely revolutionary financial service that is so innovative that the traditional financial sector has struggled to keep up with it.

Most of the following challenger banks have a standalone review on our website that you can check out as well. 

Best digital bank overall

ZA Bank

za bank

ZA Bank was the first virtual bank to hit the ground running in Hong Kong. Backed by Mainland capital and know-how, the challenger bank now has more than 300,000 customers.

ZA Bank is a good one-stop shop excellent for all Hong Kong residents that want to take advantage of its reasonable savings rate, easy online signup, no annual fees, up to 11% rebate, easy deposits, and fast money transfers.

ZA Bank has got you covered whether you need to deposit, borrow, or transfer money in multiple currencies. ZA stands out for its simplicity in applying for and granting essential financial products in a market that is getting extremely competitive.

>> Go to ZA Bank review

Best digital bank for savings accounts 

Airstar Bank

airstar bank

At the moment of writing, Airstar offered its new customers a promotional interest rate of 3.60% for the first HKD20,000. The standard rate is a more down-to-earth 1.20%. Between 20,000 and a million HKD, the rate is 0.50%, and above 1 million, it’s 0.10%. 

For USD accounts, the interest rate is 0.10% for any amount, and for CNY, it’s 0.25%. To check the current Saving Account and Time Deposit rates of different currencies, go to the Airstar website and mobile app, or contact the hotline at (852)3718 1818.

>> Go to Airstar review

Best digital bank for business accounts

Aspire

aspire

Aspire’s main principle is to make business financing quick and simple.

So rather than stacks of paperwork, SME owners simply fill out online forms and get a response the same day. Most of the application and review processes are automated using their in-house assessment engine before a human makes the final decision on whether to accept the application or not.

Aspire is a good business account for any small or medium company in Singapore with no monthly fees, cashbacks, valuable rewards, unlimited virtual cards for you and your team, and integrations with accounting tools for easy invoicing and expense tracking.

Their business account is available in both Singapore and Hong Kong.

>> Go to Aspire review

Best digital bank for freelancers

Wise

wise

Wise has to be added to your freelancing toolbox. If you don’t like to leave your hard-earned money on the table for the big banks to scoop up, a simple Wise application is a few clicks away. Their transparent fee structure will not leave you guessing.

Wise is best known for its currency exchange and money transfers. They help you avoid sneaky fees and unfair foreign transaction fees.

Wise lets you keep almost all the money that you get paid for doing that hard work like writing, coding, video editing, etc. There’s no need to give banks a cut. They have enough money as it is. 

If that’s not enough, you get to spend this money online or in-store with a debit card in the country’s currency you’re buying from to save on conversion fees.

>> Go to Wise review

Best digital bank for cashback rewards

livi 

livi bank

By using your livi card, you’ll also be getting cash back on all your purchases. Cashback is composed of 1% cashback on all purchases, and an additional 7% for eligible online purchases will be deposited within the next calendar month.

8% cashback can only get you up to HKD300 per month, and at a 1% rate, you can net up to HKD500 per month. 

>> Go to livi review

Best digital bank for metal cards

Revolut

revolut

The price of the Metal Account is S$19.99/m, and the express delivery is free.

You can get your sleek Revolut Metal Card in 5 different colors that look amazing, although a bit understated. They are, of course, contactless and the whole Metal account offers a wide range of features.

You get access to 5 Junior accounts, cashback on metal card payments, up to £10,000/y purchase protection, ticket protection, returns protection, unlimited disposable virtual cards, and up to 0.65% AER daily interest rate on savings.

Other Revolut Metal benefits include the ability to spend in over 150 currencies at the interbank exchange rate, exchange in 28+ fiat currencies with no monthly limit, fee-free ATM withdrawals up to S$1050 per month, overseas medical insurance and delayed baggage and flight insurance, free lounge passes for your and up to 3 friends if your flight is delayed for 1 hour plus, and many more.

>> Go to Revolut review

Best digital bank for international money transfers

Wise

wise

The Wise Borderless or Multi-currency account is a global electronic money account that allows users to send, receive, and hold money in 55 different currencies. While it lacks many standard bank account features, it gives users local bank account details without requiring a local address. 

It could be ideal for businesses, frequent travelers, and those living abroad.

Wise started uprooting old banking systems more than 10 years ago with its no-fuss money transfers. Founders Taavet and Kristo, both originally from Estonia, decided that they’ve paid enough fees to big banks for money transfers and exchanges.

And now, over 10 million people trust Wise to move more than £4.5 billion every month, which saves them £3 million in bank fees every day by bypassing banks and transferring money through Wise.

>> Go to Wise review

Best digital banks in Hong Kong and Singapore

Airstar Bank

airstar bank

About Airstar:

  • Founded: 2019 
  • CEO: Ronald Lu
  • Partner institutions: Xiaomi Corporation and AMTD Group
  • Personal and business accounts

Features:

  • Available in Hong Kong
  • Easy to open an account
  • Personal and business savings acc
  • Deposits are insured
  • Up to 3.6% p.a. 
  • 24/7 instant transfers
  • Time deposits
  • Personal loans
  • Foreign exchange

Airstar is a joint venture of two large companies that you might have heard of  – Xiaomi Corporation and the AMTD Group.

Airstar may not have a checking account like some other digital banks in Hong Kong, but it does have stellar personal and corporate savings account with promotional interest rates running all the time. 

They also offer competitive personal loans and support for HKD/USD/CNY currency exchange.

Although the company is still in its infancy, we’re sure that it will grow at a fast rate as long as they continue offering these outstanding and probably unsustainable interest rates to lure in new users. 

The HK fintech does have a mobile app available at both Apple and Google stores, but it doesn’t have a debit card.

>> Go to Airstar review

Ant Bank

ant bank

About Ant Bank:

  • Founded: 2019 
  • CEO: Steven Yu
  • Parent institution: Ant Group
  • Personal savings accounts

Features:

  • Available in Hong Kong and Singapore
  • Fast account opening
  • FPS transfers
  • Up to 2% interest rate
  • Links to AlipayHK

Ant Bank is the digital banking division of China-based Ant Group affiliated with the giant conglomerate Alibaba. Ant Bank account is easy to open; all you need is a phone and your HKID. 

They offer a high annual interest rate of 2% for the first HKD 20,000, accessible “FPS,” transfers that can be done with your mobile number, email address, bank account number, or FPS ID.

Ant Bank offers an easy way to start saving your money with its two-tiered savings accounts. AlipayHK customers can seamlessly open a savings account with Ant Bank as it’s a part of the same parent company and spend money through the AlipayHK wallet. 

>> Go to Ant Bank review

Aspire

aspire

About Aspire:

  • Founded: 2018 
  • Founders: Andrea Baronchelli (CEO) and Giovanni Casinelli (CTO)
  • Business accounts

Features:

  • Available in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam
  • Digital business account
  • Open an account in 5 minutes
  • Make payments in 50+ currencies 
  • Mid-market exchange rate
  • Link to your accounting software
  • Connect to Stripe, PayPal, Shopify, Lazada, Shopee
  • Lines of credit and term loans

Aspire business accounts are easy to open online, they have no minimum deposit, annual fees, or local transaction fees, and all other fees are transparent. With other specialties like their incorporating service and fast credit lines, Aspire really is SME’s little helper.

Aspire offers integration with third-party apps that make your everyday life easier. To help with accounting, Aspire app connects to your accounting software, so you don’t have to match transactions manually.

It also connects your Aspire card to your mobile payments like Google and Apple Pay, and you can receive payouts directly into your account from e-commerce and payment platforms like PayPal, Lazada, Shopee, Shopify, and of course, Stripe.

>> Go to Aspire review

Fusion Bank

fusion bank

About Fusion:

  • Founded: 2018 
  • CEO: Eric SUM
  • Partner institutions: Tencent Holdings Limited, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Limited, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, Hillhouse Capital, and Perfect Ridge Limited
  • Personal accounts, money transfers

Features:

  • Available in Hong Kong
  • Pay, spend and transfer locally with FPS
  • Savings accounts in HKD, CNY, and USD
  • Real-time exchange rate
  • Transfer money directly to Mainland China
  • Personal loans
  • Tesla loans

Fusion Bank is a licensed virtual bank in Hong Kong and a member of Hong Kong’s Deposit Protection Scheme with eligible deposits protected to a maximum of HKD 500,000.

It’s the first virtual bank in Hong Kong to allow customers to send money to bank accounts in Mainland China easily and receive funds from all over the world through the Fusion Bank App anytime and anywhere.

They offer personal and savings accounts, as well as personal and Tesla loans (to buy a Tesla electric car). 

livi 

livi bank

About livi:

  • Founded: 2019 
  • CEO: David Sun
  • Personal savings accounts

Features:

  • Available in Hong Kong
  • QR payments
  • Up to 1% interest rate
  • FPS transfers
  • Virtual debit Mastercard
  • Point of sale loan

livi is a modern virtual bank targeting young people of Hong Kong who want that extra push that the PayLater feature gives them without a credit card.

People looking for a savings account that offers cash back rewards and a virtual Mastercard with POS loans should look no further than livi bank. Although there are still some issues with account verifications, we’re ready to look past it as livi is a solid offering.

>> Go to livi review

Mox Bank 

mox bank

About Mox:

  • Founded: 2020 
  • CEO: Deniz Güven
  • Partner institutions: Standard Chartered, HKT, PCCW and Trip.com
  • Personal accounts

Features:

  • Available in Hong Kong
  • Easy to apply online
  • Credit and debit card in one
  • Slick app
  • Budgeting and analytics
  • 0.65% daily interest rate

Mox launched in September 2020 to potential customers in Hong Kong. It has some well-known founders and partners. The Mox Bank itself is a subsidiary of Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited. And the partners are the city’s telecom and lifestyle leader and Asia’s largest online travel agency (HKT, PCCW, and Trip.com).

They recently surpassed 100,000 users in just eight months and, in fact, already has 130,000 customers at the time of writing.

>> Go to Mox Bank review

neat 

neat

About neat:

  • Founded: 2015 
  • Founders: David Rosa (CEO), Igor Wos
  • Business accounts

Features:

  • Available in worldwide
  • Incorporation services
  • Business banking
  • Online account opening
  • Multi-currency wallet
  • Corporate cards

neat had its start in 2015 when David Rosa, the current CEO, and Igor Wos, the current CTO, founded this challenger bank in Hong Kong. They both have successful projects behind them and a lot of experience in the financial sector.

neat has placed all their focus on the small business owners around the world that are looking for a gateway to Hong Kong and its straightforward tax scheme. If that’s what you’re looking for, then Neat will not disappoint with its no-frills business account and corporate Visa cards.

The fintech already has more than 30,000 customers and more than $700m in transfers.

>> Go to neat review

Paobank

paobank

About Paobank:

  • Founded: 2015
  • Parent institution: Ping An Group
  • Personal and business accounts

Features:

  • Available in Hong Kong
  • Fast account opening, lending, and FPS
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • No account maintenance fee
  • No hidden charges

Ping An Bank, also known as Paobank, was granted a virtual banking license for Hong Kong in May 2019. They offer personal, and SME accounts as well as savings accounts. The accounts have no management fees or any other day-to-day fees for that matter. 

If you’re looking to open a savings account, you’ll be glad to know that the annual interest rate is 0.60% up to $500,000. There’s also no minimum deposit, and you can withdraw funds instantly if you need to. 

Revolut

revolut

About Revolut:

  • Founded: 2015
  • Founders: Nikolay Storonsky (CEO) and Vlad Yatsenko
  • Personal accounts (spending, saving, junior, crypto), business accounts

Features:

  • Available in Singapore and Japan
  • Coming soon to HK
  • Budget & Analytics
  • Get paid early
  • Crypto trading
  • Savings Vaults
  • Up to 4.64% interest rate
  • Donations

Revolut is a challenger bank that made a ripple effect in the stale banking markets across the world. It has now expanded to all corners of the world and is finally profitable.

Revolut Singapore is not a bank but rather a regulated payment institution. You can use the mobile app to exchange money in virtually any currency. Additionally, Revolut Singapore offers a ton of different ways to save money on your various currency transactions.

In our opinion, Revolut Singapore is one of the best banking institutions to know about and use.

Revolut’s Asia-Pacific headquarters opened in Singapore in 2018, and their services have been available since October 2019. As a company, Revolut has 15 million personal account customers, 500,000 business account users, and over 28 different currencies offered in the app.

>> Go to Revolut review

Statrys

statrys

About Statrys:

  • Founded: 2018
  • Founders: Bertrand Théaud (CEO) 
  • Partner institution: Velotrade Management Limited
  • Business accounts

Features:

  • Single and multi-currency accounts
  • Forex for SMEs
  • No account opening fee
  • No minimum deposit
  • No Account balance limits
  • Low FX commissions
  • Multilingual client support

Statrys targets small and medium-sized businesses with two types of accounts:

  • Multi-currency account (88HKD/month)
  • Single currency account (148HKD/month)

You can apply online if your company is incorporated in the following jurisdictions:

  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore
  • The British Virgin Islands
  • More to come soon

There are no account opening fees, no minimum deposits, and no balance limits. You can send, receive, and hold 11 currencies: HKD, USD, RMB, EUR, GBP, SGD,

AUD, CAD, NZD, JPY, and CHF.

WeLab Bank

welab

About WeLab Bank:

  • Founded: 2013
  • Founders: Aananth Solaiyappan, Frances Kang, Kelly Wong, Simon Loong (CEO)
  • Parent institution: WeLab
  • Personal accounts

Features:

  • Available in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Indonesia
  • Personal loans
  • Time deposits
  • Interest rate of 0.7% p.a.

WeLab has close to 50 million individual users and over 700 enterprise customers in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Indonesia. And WeLab Bank was one of the first virtual banks to be granted a license to operate in Hong Kong in 2018.

The bank offers a savings account, time deposits, and a debit card. WeLab Bank accounts are completely free and don’t have any minimum balance requirements.

GoSave is Hong Kong’s first socially-driven time deposit whose interest rate is determined by the number of joiners in each group. The more people who join, the higher the interest rate for all.

Wise

wise

About Wise:

  • Founded: 2011
  • Founders: Kristo Käärmann (CEO) and Taavet Hinrikus (CEO)
  • Partner bank: Community Federal Savings Bank
  • Personal and business accounts, money transfer

Features:

  • Free online account
  • International bank details
  • Send money to more than 70 countries, always with a low and transparent fee
  • Spend in local currency with your card
  • Receive your salary, pension, and more
  • Pay at the real exchange rate
  • Pay online securely with instant notifications
  • Use your card in more than 200 countries and withdraw money from 2.3 million ATMs

Since its launch in London in 2011, Wise has focused on making international money transfers cheaper and more transparent. 

By charging extremely low fees compared with high street banks and other online payment providers and using the real exchange rate when converting currencies, Wise has quickly become a top choice for both personal and business international bank transfers.

When you open a Wise account, you get local account details for nine currencies, including the Singapore dollar. You get a Bank code, Bank name, and Account number that you can share with others to receive money.

>> Go to Wise review

YouTrip

youtrip

About YouTrip:

  • Founded: 2016
  • Founders: Arthur Mak, Caecilia Chu (CEO)
  • Partner bank: Community Federal Savings Bank
  • Personal accounts, money transfer

Features:

  • Singapore’s first multi-currency wallet
  • Also available in Thailand
  • Prepaid Mastercard
  • No hidden fees
  • Hold up to S$5,000
  • Instant exchange for 10 currencies

Based in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand, YouTrip comprises people with experience in leading tech companies and some of the world’s most prominent financial institutions.

YouTrip is a mobile wallet from Singapore that targets travelers with their no-fee policy. You can spend over 150 currencies worldwide at the “best exchange rates” and without worrying about fees. 

There are also ten select currencies that you can exchange in-app and lock down a good rate. You can top up your YouTrip account instantly with any Singapore credit or debit card and hold up to S$5,000 in a secure mobile wallet.

ZA Bank

za bank

About ZA Bank:

  • Founded: 2018
  • CEO: Rockson Hsu
  • Partner institutions: Zhong An Online, Sinolink, and CITIC Bank
  • Personal and business accounts

Features:

  • Available in Hong Kong
  • Multi-currency savings account
  • 1% savings rate
  • Time deposits
  • Loans
  • Insurance
  • Business banking
  • FPS transfers

ZA Bank is one of eight digital banks in the Hong Kong market and is a ZhongAn Online and Best Group joint venture. It has recently announced that it has acquired around 300,000 customers. This milestone was reached right before the company’s first year anniversary.

ZA lets you deposit, borrow, or transfer money in multiple currencies and invest your money or insure your life, health, and even bills. 

>> Go to ZA Bank review

Benefits of digital banking

Digital banks are also called mobile banks, neobanks, challenger banks, online banks, and other similar versions. 

The benefits of digital banking largely stem from the fact that these banks root their mission in fixing some of the problems presented in the traditional banking industry. One such problem is that historically, banking has not been accessible to certain types of customers, such as those with low-income or high-risk customers. 

Digital banks have transformed the application process, making it much faster, with less or no paperwork, and completed entirely online. The process usually involves downloading an app, entering some personal details, and confirming your identity. 

Within minutes your application has been approved, and your account is open – a much more accessible and convenient process than the one offered traditionally.

Let’s see what virtual banks bring to the table.

Low to no fees

Fees are a common occurrence with traditional banks and can cost customers hundreds each year. However, digital banks do not have the regulations, expenditures, and dated infrastructures of traditional banks, allowing them to provide an almost entirely fee-free service, often selling themselves as banks with no hidden fees. 

This also means that digital banks can often offer better interest rates on savings.

Higher interest rates

It’s a recognized fact that big banks will give you appalling interest rates if any. How does 0.05% sound to you? Virtual banks can provide their customers with higher interest rates on savings accounts because they save on overhead costs like retail space and bank cashiers. 

You can even get an interest rate on your checking account balance in some cases.

Easy to apply

Is there anything worse than going to the bank? I put it up there with visiting the dentist. Luckily, with mobile banks, you get to open your account online without visiting the bank office and paying for fuel and parking. 

Simply fill out the online form, upload your ID, take a selfie, and you can start banking. 

Convenient

The ability to apply for a bank account online is not the only convenient thing. Pretty much everything else that involves your finances can be done from your sofa as well, including applying for a mortgage. Open your banking app, find the menu, and you’re halfway there.

Budgeting and analytics

Many virtual banking apps have a more or less advanced budgeting and analytics system and even reports that give you a complete overview of your spending and saving. See which categories are siphoning money out of your account and make a change in your spending habits. 

If you turn on the autosaving feature in the app, your transactions will round up to the nearest dollar, and the change will go into a savings account. 

Cashback 

You don’t need a credit card anymore as some mobile-only banks offer cashback on everyday purchases. It was about time you got something back! You can even get cash back rewards in cryptocurrency now. 

Further benefits of virtual banks’ service come down to the automated tools and features they offer to help customers make the most of their finances. 

Real-time spending notifications allow customers to stay as up-to-date on their spending as possible, and monthly spending reports help them see where they could be spending less or saving more. They also offer ways to squirrel funds away into separate areas and round-up features that place spare change into savings. 

One of the most significant benefits of digital banks is that they are growing quickly and always rolling out new features to make the banking experience more useful and convenient for their users.

Drawbacks of virtual banking

Digital banking isn’t perfect, and most of the independent fintech companies were only founded less than 5 years ago (some only a couple of years ago). So, there are still some teething problems.

Nevertheless, let’s look at some of the drawbacks to digital banks in Southeast Asia. 

Customer service 

This is arguably the most significant disadvantage over big banks. Because there are no physical branches, you have to do all your troubleshooting online. This can be a less than perfect solution, especially if you have a time-sensitive and costly problem to deal with. 

Although all the apps have a chat function, sometimes there might be a substantial waiting period, or there’s only a chatbot available to answer your questions. Granted, some big banks are offenders as well.

Fewer financial products 

Some digital banks have a barebones account with just a few add-ons and that’s it. That doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. Not everyone needs savings, investing, mortgages, loans, and so on from their bank account. Sometimes, simpler is better.

Fewer options for depositing

This one comes down to the lack of physical branches. If you have cash on your hands that you want to deposit into your account, you might find yourself at a dead end. The same goes for cheques, as all neobanks can’t scan a cheque with your phone.

How safe is digital banking?

The recent licensing of digital banks by larger financial institutions will allow customers to feel more comfortable and safe banking with digital banks. This license often comes with a guarantee that secures customer deposits. Licensed virtual banks in Hong Kong are members of Hong Kong’s Deposit Protection Scheme with eligible deposits protected to a maximum of HKD 500,000. And in Singapore, that amount is S$75,000.

Other than that, digital banks are at the cutting edge of technology, and customer safety is part of this. The authorization customers complete to apply for an account involves facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, or voice recognition, demonstrating how digital banks are utilizing the best of technology to provide customers with a secure experience. 

It’s also common for digital banking apps to offer instant freeze and unfreeze features that allow customers convenience and peace of mind in cases of lost or stolen cards.

What features do digital banks offer that traditional banks don’t?

  • Quick and easy online application
  • Approval within minutes 
  • No tedious paperwork required
  • Advanced analytics features
  • No hidden fees
  • Fewer to no fees for transactions and ATM withdrawals abroad
  • Savings accounts or non-savings accounts with interest
  • Monthly reports and forecasting
  • In-app customer service
  • Bill splitting

How to get started with digital banking

The best thing about digital-only banks is that you can apply for most online accounts in 5-10 minutes or even less. Visit your mobile bank’s website and click or tap ‘Get started’. You can also download the banking app from Google Play or Apple’s App store yourself. 

To open an online personal banking account, you have to have an NRID or HKID identity card (depending on the country) for permanent and non-permanent residents and be aged 18 or above.

The bottom line

Digital banks are bringing a lot to the table with low to no fees, free ATM withdrawals, free or cheap transfers, and, above all else, convenience and ease of use. 

In Hong Kong, since the HKMA began granting digital banking licenses in 2019, digital banking is expected to thrive in certain areas, such as Macau and the Greater Bay Area. There has also been much speculation that these banking licenses will rejuvenate Hong Kong’s banking sector, so we can expect digital banking to grow in the region, and hopefully, soon offer bank accounts and savings accounts to rival that of the traditional institutions. 

This is much the same for other areas of South East Asia, such as Singapore, in which after the initial licenses were granted in 2020, digital banks are expected to be launching their services fully in 2021. Until then, we can expect that they may offer fee-free accounts, money-saving tools, and more.

As digital banking is expected to continue to grow in South East Asia, more digital banks are expected to emerge. They will be rolling out new features, tools, and products to tempt customers from traditional financial institutions.