Are digital banks the new way to bank? Since the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) began issuing digital bank licences, digital banks have been popping up on our feeds and in our conversations everywhere.
Yet, there’s still a fair bit of reservations held when it comes to digital banks—and we think we know why. Digital banks aren’t physically there. There’s nothing about them we can touch or hold, and it can be hard to believe in something we can’t see in front of us. That’s why a good number of people may still have doubts about digital banks.
It’s time we answer these doubts and questions on everyone’s minds. We scoured Reddit for common questions we can help to answer once and for all about digital banks, including whether we can trust them, and what they can actually offer that our good ole’ traditional banks can’t.
Answering Reddit Questions About Digital Banks
- What are digital banks anyway?
- Can we trust digital banks?
- What the heck can digital banks provide that regular banks can’t?
- Will digital banks *always* offer lower fees than traditional banks?
- Do these digital banks have ATMs?
- Who is going to take responsibility if your senior family member gets scammed of their entire life savings?
1. Hold up. What are digital banks anyway?
Digital banks are banks that function entirely online and often only through a mobile app. That means no physical branches, no taking a queue number, and no sitting around waiting for a staff member to attend to you. Instead, you use the bank’s digital tools, such as mobile apps to do all your banking transactions yourself.
Here in Singapore, one example of a digital bank is Trust Bank, backed by Standard Chartered and FairPrice Group.
2. Can we trust digital banks?
Why should we trust the likes of digital banks like Trust Bank? Certainly not just because they called themselves that:
Here are 2 things to look out for if you’re on the fence about putting your trust in digital banks:
- Backing by established organisations: Trust Bank is backed by large organisations with decades of experience in the financial and commercial spheres. You’d be familiar with Standard Chartered, a trusted global bank with more than 160 years of experience in Singapore, and FairPrice Group, which has been Singapore’s leading grocery retailer for 50 years.
- Licensing: Trust Bank has been granted a full banking licence, with a priority focus on providing digital banking services, in line with Singapore’s efforts to digitalise its economy.
3. What can digital banks provide that regular banks can’t?
There are 3 main advantages of digital banks compared to traditional ones.
The first is all about cost savings for you. Digital banks can offer lower or even no fees, and competitive savings account interest rates. For instance, Trust Bank imposes no annual fees and no foreign transaction fees. After all, with no physical bank branches, they have lower overhead costs.
Here’s a look at how the fees and interest rates of traditional banks compare with that of a digital bank, Trust Bank.
|Fees/rates||Savings Account by Trust||Savings Account A||Savings Account B|
|Account closure fee||$0 (No lock-in period)||S$30 if account is closed within 6 months||S$30 if account is closed within 6 months|
|Base interest rate||1.5% p.a. on first S$125,000||0.05% p.a.||0.05% p.a.|
|Max interest rate||Up to 2.5% p.a. on first S$125,000—no requirements on, investing, insuring, loaning, etc.||Up to 4.1% p.a. on first S$100,000—if you have transactions in at least 3 categories across credit card spending, home loans, insurance, and investments.||Up to 7.65% p.a. on first S$100,000—if you fulfil 5 categories of salary crediting, saving, credit card spending, insuring, and investing.|
Information accurate as of 10 Aug 2023.
Credit cards from digital banks such as Trust Bank may also come with lower fees compared to credit cards from traditional banks.
|Credit Card by Trust||Credit Card A||Credit Card B|
|Foreign transaction fee||None (not even 1% Visa charges!)||3.25%||3.25%|
|Cash advance fee||None||8%||8% or $15, whichever is higher|
Information accurate as of 10 Aug 2023.
The second advantage of a digital bank is the enhanced user interface. I mean, when all your bank functions are done solely on a single app, it’s gotta be good, right? Digital bank apps are seamless and forward-looking; banking on them is practically as easy as browsing Netflix and choosing what to watch. You can bid queuing at bank branches goodbye.
For example, the Trust App allows you to set up and manage a whole bunch of functions on it, including:
- Opening an account hassle-free, within minutes, and from anywhere in Singapore
- Tracking your spending so you’re aware how much more to unlock bonus rewards
- Getting a category breakdown of your monthly expenses
- Using their “stamp cards” to unlock rewards at participating merchants
- Buying travel insurance within the Trust App
- Accessing customer care agents through in-app live chat 24/7
Finally, digital banks are convenient and can save you wallet space. If you sign up for both a credit card and debit card from Trust, you’ll just be issued one card that serves both functions. This card is also numberless, and the Trust App allows you to lock your card instantaneously—an extra layer of security in case you misplace it.
4. Will digital banks always offer lower fees than traditional banks?
Unlike traditional banks, digital banks don’t operate any physical branches. They don’t print any paper statements. All this means no overhead costs in these areas, which means digital banks’ lower fees are here to stay. After all, it’s one of their major selling points compared to regular banks.
5. Do these digital banks have ATMs?
For Trust customers, you can easily withdraw the cash you need from Standard Chartered’s ATMs across the island and even from overseas ATMs with Visa enabled. You won’t be charged any foreign transaction fee for these withdrawals—except for fees that the overseas bank’s ATM may impose.
In Singapore, you can find a Trust-branded ATM at FairPrice Xtra Vivocity, #B2-23. Alternatively, visit a Standard Chartered ATM at:
- Battery Road
- Bedok Mall
- Bugis Junction
- Changi Business Park
- Clementi Mall
- Marina Bay Financial Centre
- Marine Parade
- NEX Serangoon
- Sixth Avenue
- Serangoon Garden
6. Who is going to take responsibility if your senior family member gets scammed of their entire life savings?
Just like traditional banks, digital banks make every effort to keep their customers’ banking experiences safe and secure. Here’s a summary of the security features from Trust Bank:
- Get instant push notifications from the Trust App, and email notifications for all your account activity. So wherever and whenever your money is going, you’ll know in real time.
- Use biometric authentication to access your Trust App . Nope, a password alone won’t cut it. In fact, Trust also added a Trust Key which is an extra layer of security for you to authorise high risk or sensitive transactions through a 6-digit PIN.
- For specific merchants who are 3DSecure, any online transactions you make requires you to authenticate them via the Trust App.
- You get to control card permissions and use restrictions, such as use for overseas spend and local spend.
- No one can steal your card details with a numberless physical card. Only you can access your card number, CVV and expiry via your Trust App.
- If your card gets lost or stolen, easily lock (and unlock if you manage to locate it) it with a tap on the Trust App. This will restrict all card functions.
But digital banks themselves aside, being “cyber-safe” is a community effort. These security features are great, but it’s not just on the bank to stay vigilant. As a bank customer, whether of a digital or traditional bank, never share sensitive information to anyone via SMS, call or email. No bank would ask you for such information on these channels. Be especially wary whenever you’re asked to provide your OTPs, card numbers, bank account number, or personal information like NRIC.
Specially for MoneySmart readers
Get S$35 worth of FairPrice Group E-Vouchers (and more) when you sign up for Trust with the referral code ‘MONEYSMT‘.
Valid from 3 Aug 2023 to 31 Dec 2023.
Download the Trust Bank SG App today.
T&Cs apply. Insured up to S$75k by SDIC.
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This post was written in collaboration with Trust Bank. While we are financially compensated by them, we nonetheless strive to maintain our editorial integrity and review products with the same objective lens. We are committed to providing the best information in order for you to make personal financial decisions with confidence. You can view our Editorial Guidelines here.