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Opening CIMB Singapore account without visiting Singapore for Malaysians

As much as we’d hope that Ringgit Malaysia (MYR) will be recognised by more global institutions, unfortunately it has yet to reach such globalised status that our peers currently enjoy being Asia’s Hub – the likes of Singapore Dollar (SGD) or Hong Kong Dollar (HKD).

Hence it’s not surprising to see that most international broker will have presence and acceptance of local transfer in those currencies / country, but not for Ringgit. Of course there’s alternatives like international telegraphic transfer (which are super expensive and simply not worth it) or Fintech transfer (via likes of Transferwise or Instarem) which some global institutions will reject third party transfers under others’ account name to avoid potential money laundering (tho some are willing to accept if you provide proof of money trail)

As such, it’s always good to have an offshore account either to keep your proceeds in a stronger currency, or just to use it as in-transit account under your name. This guide will is part of International Investing series where I covered on how I explored and selected my international brokerage for overseas investing, For now, I’ll be focusing more on how Malaysians, in general, can apply for Offshore bank accounts at the comfort of your desk.

Technically speaking, I didn’t needed to open another offshore account as I already have my Hong Kong account back in the days when I was still working overseas for a short period. I chose not to close the account when I was repatriated for the convenience that it might bring me in the future (and indeed it was a good decision for me). Ironically I completely forgot about it when I was so fixated on researching the steps to open a Singapore Account

Let’s get started!

Why CIMB and not Maybank?

Before I decided to go ahead with CIMB Singapore, I’ve done some research and compared the two products – Maybank Singapore iSAVvy vs. CIMB Singapore FastSaver. Frankly speaking, both accounts are pretty much the same if you only intend to use it for in-transit account.

MaybankCIMB Bank
Paper Form via Malaysia Branches onlyApplication ProcessFully Online Form
SGD$1000Minimum Initial DepositSGD$1000
SGD$500Minimum BalanceSGD$0
$2/month fall-below feesFees (min. balance)$0
$10 - waivedFees (inward TT)$0 - waived
16No. of Branches2

Based on my needs, I didn’t need the flexibility of ATM Withdrawal in Singapore at this stage (yet) so CIMB is more than sufficient for me, plus it’s convenient, free, and no minimum balance to deal with – hence an obvious choice for me although I’m more active with Maybank than CIMB bank back home in Malaysia.

Another thing to consider (if you are using this as transit account for investment) is if there’s any withdrawal from your investments onto this account, check if your brokerage does it via Local-to-Local FAST transfer or via Local Wire Remittance (Telegraphic Transfer), as Maybank charges $10 per inward transaction whereas CIMB waived it (as of now)

Your circumstances may wary so choose one that fits your need best (i.e. if you have access to Premier Banking options like HSBC Premier, etc.).

Preparations

As a start, you must at least have these with you to smoothen the journey

  • Malaysia NRIC
  • CIMB Malaysia account
  • SGD$1,000 equivalent worth of cash (or RM3,100 to be safe)
  • Internet Connection and Patience

Opening CIMB Malaysia Account

If you already have CIMB Malaysia account with CIMB Clicks activated (and not dormant like mine), you can skip this entire chapter (or read on, if you plan to save on the annual fees).

If you don’t have CIMB Malaysia account yet, I’ll briefly walk you through in high-level. Just head to CIMB website and look for Basic Savings Account, which provides an option to have a zero-annual-fees account 1. You just have make sure to keep it active and not let it become dormant, as I’ve had mine dormant twice had to pay penalties to reactivate the account. If you are planning to withdraw (via ATM) very frequently, then you have to evaluate other options (maybe Account 2 is more suitable for you).

CIMB Malaysia also have an online application process so you can just go through with the flow, but from my memory, you’d still need to visit the branch to collect debit card, activate new PIN via ATM machine, obtain CIMB Clicks MY registration key via ATM machine. I haven’t tried applying online in Malaysia yet so I can’t speak much from experience.

Opening CIMB Singapore Account

Generally there are five parts in this section:

  • Application Form Submission (Online) with supporting documents
  • Initiate Singapore Account Linking via CIMB Clicks Malaysia
  • Performing e-KYC Local ASEAN Transfer within CIMB Clicks Malaysia (own-to-own account transfer)
  • Performing initial SGD1,000 account funding to qualify for account approval
  • Complete your Singapore account with CIMB Clicks Singapore and TAC Security Device

I’ve documented the detailed step-by-step walk-through below and hope that this will be useful for you!

Application Form Submission (Online)

1. Go through the CIMB SG FastSaver product details and complete the application form. having your proof of IC, residential address, and e-signature ready with you.

2. Upon completing the application, email notification from CIMB SG will be sent to you with a password-protected PDF. Password to open the PDF will be sent to you via SMS.

3. Open the PDF and keep note of the Singapore Bank account number, you will need it later.

Initiate Singapore Account Linking

4. Login to CIMB Clicks Malaysia, find “Services” page (only visible on Desktop) and select “Link Singapore Account” under Account Maintenance section. 

  • Input the same NRIC number you have in records for both Malaysia and Singapore account. It must be the same.
  • You might be wondering why is this step important and needs to be done first before everything else? It’s simple. As part of MONEY LAUNDERING PREVENTION, and FRAUD PREVENTION, they need to be sure that “you are who you claim to be”, and this is done by cross validating your registration in Malaysia vs. Singapore, and subsequently initiating an own-account transfer to Singapore account once linkage is completed. Hence the E-KYC process.

5. Once linked, wait for 1-2 business days for it to get approved.

  • To check on status, follow the exact steps listed earlier (click Singapore Accounts) and it’ll show you the status (pending approval)
  • If for whatever reason, it shows the input screen again (like the ones you saw in step 4), that means your application has been rejected.
  • I had the same issue as well – call up the Malaysia Customer Service and explain to them you need to have this account linked, to perform ASEAN Transfer for e-KYC verification requested by Singapore team.
  • DO NOT ATTEMPT Telegraphic Transfer – not only it’s expensive, it is not recognised for e-KYC verification as these are treated as 3rd party transfer (and not first party own-account transfer). I’ve paid my lessons 😀

Funding Account Opening Deposit

6. While waiting for the approval, you can initiate your SGD$1,000 transfer. Or do it after linkage approval, doesn’t really matter.

  • I would recommend to use Fintech transfers like TransferWise or InstaRem to save on international transfer fees.
    TransferWise 1000 SGD
    p/s feel free to use my referral for TransferWise for fee-free transfer up to 500 GBP!
  • Even with ASEAN transfer (the one that you need for e-KYC with fees waiver), it can’t beat rates offered by FinTech (RM3,060.16 vs RM3,094.70)

Performing e-KYC Verification Transfer

7. By now, hopefully your account linkage would’ve already been approved. If so, simply head to “Transfer Money” (Local Transfer, not Telegraphic Transfer) and transfer at least SGD$1 for e-KYC verification. Personally I transferred SGD$5 via this approach.

8. It will take approx. 1-2 business days again, for Singapore branch to validate you. This is where they’ll ultimately decide whether to approve your account opening application, or reject your application and refund you all the monies. So far I haven’t seen anyone getting rejected yet (at least based on Lowyat thread).

Approved Application & Activate TAC

9. If your account opening is successful, you will receive again a welcome email to get you started, alongside with SMS containing your first-time login PIN for CIMB Clicks Singapore

10. Set up your CIMB Clicks Singapore by logging in and change your password.

11. I also recommend to install CIMB Singapore App (Android / iOS). It’s terribly outdated, but important unless you plan to visit them to collect your “physical token” for OTP. You need it to initiate Local Transfer within Singapore (i.e. funding your investment account, etc.)

Final Thoughts

So that’s all! I hope this guide was helpful enough to get you started opening an Offshore Singapore Account whatever your reasons may be. I’ll expand / update this post in the future if I ever get the chance to also explore the Maybank route, but I don’t foresee it happening anytime soon.

See you in my next post! If you haven’t already, be sure to follow me on my Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for latest updates!

Cheers,
Gracie

p/s in case if you’d like to support me, feel free to use my TransferWise referral code for free first transfer here!

Special shout-out: If you prefer a video version of the step-by-step guide – check out Ziet Invests’ video here!

Frequently Asked Questions

I have decided to also compile some of the most frequently asked questions based on the PM/Comments received so far. Hope this will also be helpful for starters!

Yes, once CIMB Singapore account is approved – you’ll be granted credentials to CIMB Clicks Singapore – make sure to have OTP mechanism in place (step 11), I went with mobile OTP via their APP.

Once that’s done, you can do FAST transfer to any Local Singapore Bank accounts, provided that the Brokerage has a presence/local bank account accepting FAST

From what I’ve gathered and seen so far – as long as you are already a verified CIMB Malaysia customer, the Singapore account opening process will be 100% online with no special conditions.

The sequence does not matter. What’s most important is to ensure that you completes the $1 e-KYC transfer via your CIMB Malaysia account to your CIMB Singapore account. This transfer should be made via CIMB Clicks Malaysia website, after you have successfully linked your accounts – and performed under “Local Own Account” transfer (you’ll see both MY and SG account there if linked correctly).

From what I’ve researched so far, it’ll mostly be fine. If you are using it for investment purposes, do pay attention to the Domestic Ringgit Borrowing / Foreign Investment Asset guidelines.

Below are some useful readings related to this.

https://www.stashaway.my/faq/900000198566-what-is-domestic-ringgit-borrowing-drb

https://www.bnm.gov.my/documents/20124/60360/Notice%2B3_Investment%2Bin%2BForeign%2BCurrency%2BAsset.pdf

Please make sure that you have already activated and linked a security device to your profile. As in my case, I opted to install “CIMB Clicks Singapore” app on my phone and used it as my OTP Token Security device – since I didn’t want to go through the hassle to have physical OTP device delivered to me.

Generally as long as the service provides bank transfer into SGD account in Singapore, it should be fine. Personally, I prefer TransferWise simply because of their competitive exchange rates (and I’m able to perform two-way transfer via TransferWise)

If you have decided to stop using CIMB Singapore and you’d like to repatriate the funds back into Malaysia, similar to how you have funded it initially – you can use TransferWise except this time around you will transfer SGD into Malaysia.

49 thoughts on “Opening CIMB Singapore account without visiting Singapore for Malaysians

  1. Hi Gracie! Will like to ask, do you still remember how long does it take to receive the SMS in order to open the password-protected PDF after completing the CIMB SG Application? I’d waited for more than a day but still had not received it😂

    1. Hi Ginny!

      I just digged my email / print screens / SMS to check back – both the Email (with PDF) and SMS (with password) was sent immediately after I submitted my form online. SMS was sent from 68833 in my case (I’m using Digi) but not sure if thats the only number.

      Might have to reach out to CIMB SG team if it still doesn’t get sent 😅

      Cheers!
      Gracie

    1. Hi Matthew

      When transfering from MYR into SGD via Transferwise into your CIMB SG account – I don’t recall requiring ACH routing number at all, in fact, once you selected SGD / Local Bank “CIMB BERHAD” – it should prompt you to only fill in Local Bank Account Number and thats all.

      ACH are only required when you transfer into overseas account like the US, if I remembered correctly.

  2. Thanks for the guide.
    I would like to ask, for subsequent funding, is it possible to transfer from CIMB MY to SG straight using CIMBClicks MY? Or we still need to use fintech for cheaper cost?

    1. Hi Jiro

      For subsequent funding, you can opt for CIMB Clicks MY internal transfer into SG since they don’t charge TT fees. Though their exchange rate will still be on the higher side, personally, I recommend to at least compare with fintech to see the cost differences and if you’re willing to absorb the difference then it’ll be fine.

      In most cases, fintech will always be cheaper, especially if the amount transferred is huge (since exchange rate differences will amplify based on your transferred amount).

      Cheers!
      Gracie.

  3. Hi
    Any idea how to open a HK bank account from Malaysia? Without visiting HK (due to covid). Does HSBC or CIMB Malaysia allow that?
    Or any other ideas? I saw Transaferwise doesn’t privide HK bank accounts.

    Regards
    rocky

    1. Hi Rocky

      Unfortunately based on my knowledge with Hong Kong, they are very particular and strict when it comes to bank account opening (being Asia’s financial hub) – saying this from my experience staying there for ~1 year during my assignment.
      Even with valid job offers/stay/sponsor from employer, I had to wait 30 days to open a HK bank account via physical face-to-face verification (due to multiple background checks + anti money laundering checks). And the account opening requires HKID (I was issued HKID during my stay there) rather than just my passport.

      I am not sure if they have loosened the process now but I highly doubt so. The closest way is to have it via Premier routes, such as HSBC Premier but that definitely comes with a baggage/cost/requirements (compared to local “basic” account). This is the main reason why I opted to keep my HK “Basic” account even years after leaving the country as it was too tedious just to open one physically.

      Cheers
      Gracie

  4. Hi Gracie,
    Thank you for the impressive details of how-to open CIMB-SG.
    By any chance, do you know if we need to keep minimum $S1000 fund in the CIMB-SG account at all times? Or we can start using this fund for IB after account is approved?
    If yes, would that means if less than S1000, there will be monthly charges?
    Please advise.

    1. Hello Foong! Thanks for reading and glad to hear that you find this article useful! 😊

      The minimum funding of SGD1000 are only required for the initial account opening and approval purposes – following which we can freely withdraw or transfer it out from the CIMB SG account. Personally I kept only ~100 SGD on my CIMB SG and moved the rest into my Interactive Brokers (Tradestation Global) account.

      Unlike Maybank Singapore, CIMB SG does not have fall-below minimum fee so don’t worry about that (at least as of this comment).

      Hope these helps!

  5. After CIMB MY approved the link, I can see the CIMB SG under “Transfer Money”

    But, I still can’t see the CIMB SG account under “My Accounts” is that normal ?

    Future, if I want transfer fund from CIMB SG to CIMB MY, I need to do it at clicks SG or clicks MY after linked.

    After transferred SGD 1 for e-KYC, do I need to wait for CIMB SG call for validation first, or do a fund transfer SGD 1000 first ?(without SGD1000 transfer, will they call for validation?)

    can transferwise do transfer from SGD to MYR for Malaysian ?

    1. Hi Alfred, if you can see the Singapore account under “local transfer”, means the account is already linked.

      In My Accounts tab, there should be a 🇸🇬 Singapore flag which you can click on to also view account balances or details. The first E-KYC transfer will be made from CIMB Clicks Malaysia, transferring at least SGD 1 from your Malaysian account to your Singapore account.

      Sequence for 1 SGD or 1000 SGD does not really matter – just make sure to do E-KYC.

      Via transferwise you can perform two way transfers (MY to SG / SG to MY), but instarem only allows one way transfer (MY to SG)

      Hope these helps!

      Cheers
      Gracie

  6. Hi Gracie,

    First of all thank you for the useful information.

    Let say if my SG CIMB application were rejected, how are they gonna refund back to me ? Since I’m using 3rd party (instaRem) for the funding purpose.
    SG CIMB refund back to instaRem, and instaRem automatically transfer the money back to my account ?

    1. Hi Chang

      Personally I hasn’t heard rejection cases yet so far – hence I won’t be able to share in depth – but I believe CIMB Singapore will contact you in case of rejection (at least via email) and I am sure the detailed arrangements can be made / clarified from there directly with their call centre/support team.
      But if CIMB indeed ends up reversing/cancelling the inflow into CIMB, then yes, definitely have to reach out to InstaRem directly on the reversal part – though I am not sure how will the reverse work.

      Cheers
      Gracie

  7. hi Gracie,

    I have opened a CIMB SG account, but the only OTP option available when i want to transfer to my brokerage account is the “security device” option. Anyway i can change this to OTP thru SMS?

    1. Hi pearly,

      When I was registering for mine, I didn’t see any options for SMS OTP. Only security device.

      But you can opt for CIMB Clicks SG app and register your phone as OTP device. Then you can generate / get OTP from the app itself without needing physical device.

      Cheers!
      Gracie

    1. Hey David,

      Yes, once CIMB Singapore account is approved – you’ll be granted credentials to CIMB Clicks Singapore – make sure to have OTP mechanism in place (step 11), I went with mobile OTP via their APP.

      Once that’s done, you can do FAST transfer to any Local Singapore Bank accounts, provided that the Brokerage has a presence/local bank account accepting FAST

      Cheers
      Gracie

  8. Hi Gracie,
    In transferwise, I can only locate “CIMB Bank Berhad” (not Singapore). Is is where we transfer the 3K in your step 6 above? Thank you.

    1. Hi David

      In transferwise, most currency pairs only accept “local bank” transfer. When you initiate a transfer into a “destination”, it typically defaults to that currency’s home country. For example, if I send MYR into SGD, the default (and only) destination is Singapore, hence “CIMB Bank Berhad” basically means “CIMB Bank Berhad” @ Singapore. That is why on TransferWise’s page it will show “LOCAL” banks selection.

      Certain more well-known currencies (e.g. USD) may allow you to select USD currency transfer into other countries (than US), with additional fees. Whereas certain well-known currencies (e.g. HKD) forbids you from doing that.

      Likewise, if I send MYR into HKD, the default (and only) destination is Hong Kong

      So yes, your understandings were correct. Though one thing – I’ll recommend to transfer at least RM3100 (or RM3200) just to be safe and hit the “1000 SGD minimum total deposit” threshold, otherwise if you need to perform another (small) transfer, it may not worth it to do another transfer at tiny amounts.

      Cheers!
      Gracie

  9. Hari Maheswaran says:

    Hi Gracie,
    I am new to overseas investment and your step-by-step guide has been very educational for me. I plan to invest in the US stock market via Tiger Brokers and the biggest headache was how to transfer money over to them.
    Thanks to you, via TransferWise and opening a CIMB Singapore bank account, I can now invest cheaper; instead of having to pay hefty exchange rates and fee.
    TQ once gain ya!!!

  10. hi Gracie, I have tried to open a CIMB SG account online and it does not allow as the phone number has to be a SG number. Did you experience the same?

  11. just wondering the 1000 transfer can be fintech transfer?
    i thought it was for verification purposes so i was kinda struggling to transfer using my cimb malaysia account.

    1. Hello Jou,

      For the SGD1000 deposit you can use Fintech transfer (like Transferwise). p/s feel free to use my referral for TransferWise for fee-free transfer up to 500 GBP!

      For verification purposes, if you’re referring to e-KYC process – you can only do it after you link your CIMB Singapore account to your CIMB Clicks Malaysia, then perform ASEAN (Local) transfer of at least 1 SGD. There should be no fees when performing such Local ASEAN transfer (see step 5, and step 7).

      Hope this helps!

    1. Technically speaking, I don’t see why not. Do you already have other Singapore bank accounts (I’m assuming you’re Malaysians based in Singapore with PR?)?
      If yes, I believe CIMB Singapore also allows fully-online application / e-KYC via other-banks FAST transfer (with your own name) without having to visit CIMB Singapore Branch. Most of us here (Malaysians residing in Malaysia) do it via CIMB Malaysia linkage as we do not have any Singapore accounts yet.

  12. This is tremendously helpful, thanks for sharing Gracie! Will be opening one soon to invest overseas.

    I only hope my CIMB M’sia account still exists, haha.

    1. You’re most welcome, Fiholic! Glad that this was helpful for you ☺️☺️

      😆😆 And all the best with your application process. Don’t be like me to find out that my Malaysia account is dormant only after I sent my Singapore application 😂😂

      1. Most of us (and some from forums) opened without having one, myself included. CIMB SG is my bank account for funding overseas investment and I made that clear (even during the phone verification/interview session) to them.

  13. Hi Grace, thanks for the info! indeed very helpful.
    Just curious, if I ONLY open CIMB Sg but not CIMB MY, and then transfer using fintech > CIMB Sg, is that possible?
    and If I were to open CIMB Sg, will they question why I need a CIMB account in Sg? if so, what’s the answer to provide?

    Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Hello Kelvin! Glad that the guide was helpful to you 😊

      From what I’m aware of, CIMB MY exists to at least validate your identity, physically, ensuring your identity card (and physical person) matches. With this, when you apply for Singapore’s account, they can approve your opening based on the e-KYC procedures (where you link your CIMB SG account to CIMB MY Clicks, then performing an internal SELF transfer). If you don’t do this for e-KYC, the only remaining KYC procedure I’m aware of is to present yourself to Singapore bank (and is much more troublesome given COVID-19 today) – I hope I am wrong.

      Anyway, after e-kyc is completed, the account is yours and you can fund it however you like. Cimb Singapore (or any bank for the matter) will always ask about purpose of opening overseas account – as part of KYC process. Just be honest and tell them your intention (ie myself was for overseas investment). So far CIMB SG and Maybank SG are the only banks accepting Malaysian applications without physically being there.

    1. Not that I am aware of.

      As part of your sign up, banks usually will already ask you to self-declare your Tax Residency & Tax Identification Number (TIN) as part of the Common Reporting Standards (CRS) – and that’s all you need to do.
      Just make sure to declare it and with CRS basically LHDN/Tax Authorities are already aware of your overseas bank account without you having to do anything.

      If you had multiple tax residency (I had that during my transition from Malaysia to Hong Kong; and subsequently from Hong Kong repatriating back to Malaysia), the overseas bank will conduct annual self-certification for YOU to declare your tax residency to them – or at least that’s what HSBC Hong Kong have been asking me annually 😀

      Though – I’m not a tax consultant and these are just based on my experience. Best to consult LHDN directly if in doubt.

    1. Hi Victor!

      Thanks for asking! Unfortunately I don’t plan to have their referral program as their rewards are skewed towards Singapore, and also cumbersome (sharing name / NRIC)

  14. Hi Gracie,

    Graci for the informative post. Can we make use of Bigpay’s free first International Bank Transfer for the SGD 1K deposit to the new CIMB SG account in order to meet the minimum balance?

    Regards
    Jimmy

    1. Hey Jimmy

      Actually that’s a good one! I completely forgot about Bigpay’s first transfer being free from fees :D. Technically I don’t see why you cannot – the transfer method is same usually

      Malaysia Bank –> FinTech (TransferWise/BigPay/InstaRem) —> your Singapore Bank

      Just have to cross-check and make sure it’s cheap indeed. I haven’t personally compared BigPay’s rate vs. TransferWise / InstaRem yet but should be around the same (better than Banks)

      To be safe just do a quick comparison first before transferring

  15. Hi, Gracie.

    Thanks for your effort in compiling the useful information in your blog post.

    For those who prefer to use a physical hardware token over digital token, you should be able to request CIMB Singapore to send the physical hardware token to your residential address in Malaysia, via post.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Kart!

      Honestly not so sure on the physical token part 😛 I used to always be using it because HSBC Malaysia / HSBC Hong Kong always mandated its usage. I disliked it because most of the time I won’t have it with me.. and worst part was running out of battery when I need to do transfers @[email protected]

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