19 May 2023

Sending and receiving payments from Singapore

Next stop, Singapore! Discover everything you need to know to become a local payments expert in The Lion City.
Sending and receiving payments from Singapore

Sending payments to and from Singapore

Singapore is an economic miracle. Situated on the southern tip of the Malay peninsula, the island state only became an independent country in 1965. 

Its prospects were underwhelming, and with no apparent natural resources - it ranked 176th in the world by territory. However, fast-forward just over half a century, and the scene looks very different. Singapore now has the world's second-highest GDP per capita and the third most influential financial centre, behind London and New York. 

It’s an impressive story and an example of how entrepreneurial spirit can make the impossible possible. If you’re a business owner looking to set up operations in Singapore, it pays to be familiar with the country’s financial landscape.

This guide will give you an overview of Singapore’s economy, currency, and consumer payment behaviours. We’ll explore the different ways to send and receive payments from Singapore, how long transfers take, and how much they cost. Let’s get to it!

Singapore’s economic landscape

Because of its strategic geographical position, Singapore acts as a gateway to other Asian markets. Its port is the second busiest in the world by cargo tonnage. 

Many multinational corporations have opted to establish a base in this island state. Why is this? Relatively low corporate tax rates, a well-educated population, and welcoming immigration policies play their part. Singapore has also emerged as a desirable location for local and international startups, with incentives such as grants, funding, and subsidies. 

Many international brands (including Pfizer and Disney) have regional HQs in Singapore. However, the country’s economy relies on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – employing 77% of the population. Regarding people power, the Singaporean work ethic is impressive, with the average employee working 44.1 hours per week.


The currency in Singapore is the Singapore dollar (SGD), designated by the symbol S$ or the ISO currency code SGD. SGD is the world’s 13th most-traded currency by volume and one of the most stable.

Bank notes and coins are issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). However, the way consumers in Singapore spend their dollars is changing - driven by technological developments and automation.

Consumer payment behaviours in Singapore

Singapore’s population is one of the most tech-literate in the world. Internet penetration is over 90%, and more than 92% of the population has a smartphone.

This forward-looking city-state is at the arrow tip of payment innovation. MAS recently implemented a standardised QR code-based system that supports mobile payments from 27 providers. Popular payment apps and digital wallets include GrabPay, AliPay, Dash, and PayLah.

Given Singapore’s island status, cross-border ecommerce transactions happen daily, with 73% of online shoppers buying from overseas. The top three international ecommerce markets are China, the US, and South Korea.

What are the different ways to send money to and from Singapore?

Several solutions are available to transfer money to and from Singapore. They include:

  • International money transfer specialists

  • Bank-to-bank international transfers

  • Online multi-currency business accounts

  • Cash pick-up

  • Digital or mobile wallets

Which one works best for you will depend on your business needs and operations, so we’ll look at the pros and cons of each.

International money transfer specialists

You're spoilt for choice regarding companies that specialise in international money transfers. Moneycorp and Western Union are well-known examples. 
This transfer method allows you to decide how to receive the money. Options include bank transfer, mobile wallet, and cash pick-up from a physical location. This flexibility and range of options can make it a helpful tool. 
However, the fees can be significant. If you want a faster transfer, you’ll pay a premium for it. That means the sender must pay significantly more, and the recipient will receive less. Either way, the provider pockets a healthy profit. 
With so many international transfer providers, ensuring that your chosen service is regulated by a body such as the DFSA, FCA, FSCS, or similar is crucial.

Bank-to-bank international transfers

Another option is to use your bank to transfer the funds. This is a popular choice for many businesses and individuals as it’s often the most accessible and convenient. But it can also be expensive:

  • Banks usually charge a fee to arrange and process money transfers.

  • Some banks may also charge a percentage of the total amount you’re transferring (as much as 3-4%).

  • Banks may use their own foreign exchange (FX) rates which could cost you 5-7% more.

  • International transfers often involve chains of different banks (called “correspondent banks”), all of which will charge a fee, increasing the total cost.

All banks are different, so check your business account's terms to see your bank’s international transfer charges. If they charge a lot, consider an alternative, especially if you plan to make regular international transfers to and from Singapore.

Online multi-currency accounts

An alternative to the traditional bank transfer is an online multi-currency account. These digital platforms allow you to send and receive payments in multiple currencies, usually with far more competitive FX rates and lower fees. 

Multi-currency accounts, like the 3S Money International Business Account, are popular with businesses that operate in multiple markets across the world as they offer a streamlined global payments system: easy cross-border payments, a single view of all transactions, and FX rates up to five times cheaper than traditional banks. 

Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) tend to offer online multi-currency accounts.  EMIs provide many of the same financial products and services as traditional banks, but they operate differently. For one thing, they don’t have branches you can walk into. 3S Money, for instance, is an EMI.

Here are a few reasons why EMIs are so attractive to growing international businesses:

  • Savings: EMIs offer lower fees and more competitive FX rates than traditional brick-and-mortar banks.

  • Simplicity: All your business transactions are visible in one easy-to-use global platform.

  • Scale: Your business can grow quicker with greater access to multiple markets and currencies.

As alternative banking solutions, EMIs enable businesses to make payments in different countries without holding local bank accounts.

Cash pickup

Some transfer providers offer the option to pick up physical cash at one of their locations near your recipient.
This service is often an option provided by international transfer specialists, so the same pros and cons apply. It’s straightforward, and the cash can often be available in minutes, depending on the opening hours of the physical location. 

However, there’s usually a price to pay for convenience and the same risk of losing out to significant markups on currency conversion. And again, this solution is reasonable for occasional transfers but problematic and costly for regular payments.

Digital or mobile wallets

A digital or mobile wallet is another option for sending and receiving cross-border payments from Singapore.
PayPal was one of the first digital wallets and is still the world’s most widely used. While a popular personal (peer-to-peer) transfer tool, business transactions can be expensive. There are no set-up fees, but the standard charge is 5.4% + $0.30 per transaction. There are also hefty currency conversion charges.

There are many other digital and mobile wallets out there, and which one works best for your business will depend on factors including your location and specific needs.

What’s the best way to send money to and from Singapore?

Suppose you’re a business sending and receiving regular international payments to and from Singapore. In that case, one-off transfer services (such as those offered by traditional banks and international transfer specialists) will be an expensive option for you.

Most international businesses will be completing multiple transactions daily. This can vary from paying suppliers, employees, and freelancers, to collecting customer payments and settling taxes.  

If you use transfer specialists or traditional banks for these regular transactions, their high fees, commission-based charges, and FX markups will add up and eat away at your bottom line. 

An online multi-currency account is a better solution for businesses that want hassle-free access to global markets. With 3S Money, you can send and receive payments in 65+ currencies and 190+ countries, including Singapore.

How do I send money to Singapore? Step-by-step.

With a 3S Money International Business Account, you can send money in 65+ currencies to 190+ countries, including Singapore. Here’s how:

1. Open a 3S Money International Business Account 

Once approved, your business can send hassle-free payments to Singapore using your online account.

2. Enter the transfer details 

Add the recipient’s name and account details, then choose the currency and country.

3. Send your money 

Make the transfer from your online account and receive an alert when it’s complete.

How do I receive money from Singapore? Step-by-step.

A 3S Money International Business Account makes it easy to receive international payments in 65+ currencies from 190+ countries, including Singapore. Here’s how:

1. Open a 3S Money International Business Account 

Benefit from one easy-to-use platform for all your international payments. 

2. Give customers your account details 

Get Singapore account details in your business name to easily collect SGD payments.

3. Receive your money 

See the payment arrive in your online account and either hold or exchange it for another currency.

How long do transfers to and from Singapore take?

It depends on where the transfer is being sent from, where it’s going, the systems used, and when you send it. 
  • Most traditional bank transfers take up to five working days.

  • SWIFT transfers take one to five working days.

  • Transfers between 3S Money accounts are instant.

  • It could take longer if you send your transfer on the weekend or public holiday.

  • Some receiving banks take longer to process incoming payments than others, so delays can occur for this reason.

How much money can I send or receive from Singapore?

In principle, there’s no limit to how much you can transfer. However, some providers will cap the amount you can send in a single transaction. So, you may have to do multiple transfers if you want to transfer a large amount.

3S Money doesn’t impose transaction limits. We pride ourselves on being international payment specialists, especially in high-value transfers. Once approved for an account, you can easily transfer high-value payments in 65+ currencies and 190+ countries.

Transferring large amounts

If your provider does impose a cap, watch out for multiple transfer fees. Making frequent payments for things like supplier bills and salaries for workers could be costly in the long run. 

When transferring large amounts, consider the following:
  • Some providers cap the amount you can send in a single transfer, so you may have to do several. 

  • There may be a limit on the number of transfers you can make in any 30-day period. 

  • Larger amounts can take longer to process. 

  • Your provider may enquire about large transfers. This is considered best practice and an essential part of how regulated institutions meet their obligations. Learn more about who 3S Money is regulated by

How much does it cost to transfer money to Singapore?

We mentioned earlier how international transfers via traditional banks could be a costly way to send money. Let’s look in more detail at the fees you might pay:

Transfer costs

  • Outgoing transfer fee: You’ll likely be charged a flat fee for sending an international transfer. A bank in the UK, for example, will typically charge between £20-£40.
    3S Money charges just $1 (or your local equivalent) per transfer, regardless of how much you send. More about 3S Money pricing

  • Incoming transfer fee: Most UK banks charge around £7.50 for receiving payments from international bank accounts.
    3S Money charges £0.00.

  • Initiation fee: Some banks might charge you a fee if you request the transfer over the phone or in person rather than online. For a UK bank, you can expect this to be around £20.
    3S Money doesn’t charge initiation fees.

  • Commission: Banks might also charge a fee based on a percentage of your transfer amount. For UK banks, this is currently around 3-4%. 3S Money charges just $1 per transfer (or your local equivalent) regardless of how much you send.

  • Exchange rate markup: The exchange rate you can find on Google or see on the news is called the “mid-market” rate. Transfer providers apply their own exchange rates to international transfers, which means you’ll pay more – and they keep the difference. 3S Money offers FX rates up to 5x lower than traditional banks.

Key takeaways

We’ve covered a lot in this article, so here are some tips and main takeaways to consider:
  • Singapore is an economic giant with a pro-enterprise outlook that creates favourable conditions for international businesses and startups.

  • An online multi-currency account can be an effective solution for businesses looking to scale and easily access new markets.

  • With a 3S Money International Business Account, you can send, receive, hold, and exchange SGD with low transaction costs and FX rates.

  • Watch out for currency exchange markups, as they can eat into the money you’re sending.

  • When choosing a provider for global payments, ensure an independent body regulates them. 3S Money is FCA, DFSA, and CSSF regulated and uses safeguarding to protect 100% of your funds

Experience the future of business banking

Ready to start making and receiving payments in SGD and access this Asian economic powerhouse? 3S Money’s International Business Account offers global payment solutions for businesses looking to operate in multiple countries – all from one easy-to-use account. 

Meet the authors

Matthew Ivo


Matthew Ivo is the Senior Content Manager with a strong background in crafting engaging finance-related articles. With extensive experience in the field, Matt’s writing brings clarity and valuable insights to complex financial topics, captivating readers with his expertise.


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