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!
- Maybank Singapore iSAVvy vs. CIMB Singapore FastSaver
- Opening CIMB Malaysia account
- Opening CIMB Singapore account
- Application Form Submission (Online)
- Initiate Singapore Account Linking
- Performing e-KYC Verification Transfer
- Funding Account Opening Deposit
- Approved Application & Activate TAC
- Final Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why CIMB and not Maybank?
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.).
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)
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.
Initiate Singapore Account Linking
- 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.
- 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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Couldn’t find much information online and I had asked customer service as of 1st April 2021. According to them, there’ll be 36 months grace period so as long as we have transactions once in a while it’ll be enough to keep the account active.
Personally I’m also only using it once in a quarter so it should be fine. Hope this help! Pasting the information from CIMB Customer Service below:
“We wish to inform that an account will turn into inactive status when there are no deposits or withdrawals performed by the account holder. Savings account will turned inactive after 36 months. Please be assured that your funds are still in the account and will continue to earn interest.
You will not be able to transfer funds via internet banking or withdraw funds from ATM card (if applicable).
The simplest method to activate the account will be to transfer any amount from your other bank’s internet banking to your CIMB Account. Upon receiving your transfer, your account will be activated the following day.
There are no fees for inactive account.”