aspire app review

Aspire Review [2022]: Features, Fees & Alternatives

We take a look at Singapore’s fintech offering

Contents

    Bank or fintech? Choosing the right payment services provider can deliver you cost savings and make your admin life a lot easier.

    To help you understand your options we have reviewed Aspire, the Singapore-based payment services provider. 

    We look at who can get an Aspire business account, the products on offer, the fees charged, and the level of customer service.

    We also compare our Aspire business account review with Statrys, to help you understand which provider might suit your business.

    What type of bank is Aspire?

    Firstly, Aspire is not technically a bank. It is a payment services provider that is similar to a bank in that it provides financial products like a business account, credit cards, and international payment services. 

    Aspire is exempted from holding a license under the applicable Singaporean regulations, for a specified period. Therefore, Aspire provides their services in conjunction with partners duly licensed by the relevant Singaporean authorities. [1]

    More precisely, Aspire says its funds are held in a trust account with a Tier 1 Singaporean bank. A Tier 1 category means the bank has strong capital reserves in case anything goes wrong. Is Aspire safe? As safe as the Tier 1 bank, we think it’s fair to say.

    Requirements for opening a business account

    Only businesses incorporated in Singapore can apply for an Aspire business account that has SGD and USD functionality. This excludes businesses operating in a prohibited industry listed in their Acceptable Use Policy, such as gambling, weapons manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, mining, and some financial services, including cryptocurrency. [2]

    If your business is incorporated outside of Singapore you can apply for a limited Aspire business account that operates in USD only. Provided your business is not incorporated in a sanctioned country [3] and is on the list of countries eligible for a USD account. [4]

    For businesses wanting to incorporate in Singapore, Aspire offers an incorporation service and business account in its Aspire Kickstart product. There are a number of business structures you can choose from for incorporation [5]. If you’re unsure, contact Aspire for more information. 

    Aspire does not offer accounts for individuals.

    How to apply for an account

    You can apply for an Aspire account on their website. [6]

    You will need to provide the following information:

    • Director details
    • Business details including name, UEN, entity type, size in turnover, number of employees, and a description of your business activity or the address of your website
    • Identity verification with a selfie or through the MyInfo platform.

    If your company has shareholders who own more than 25% of the company’s ordinary shares, you need to supply Aspire with a certificate of ownership for each shareholder owning more than 25%. The certificate should include the percentage amount owned, and the name, ID number, nationality, and address of the shareholder. [7]

    Once the application is submitted, you should hear back from Aspire in 1-3 business days.

    Aspire app Singapore

    Aspire products

    1. Business account 

    Aspire offers business accounts that are like a bank account, and where you can hold two currencies: SGD and USD.

    They say EUR and GBP capabilities will be available soon, but how soon we do not know. Customers can apply for one business account per business only.

    Aspire calls its business account a multi-currency account. It is actually two separate accounts. Each currency has its own local account number and SWIFT code. [8]

    Important to remember when making and receiving payments.

    SGD Account

    The SGD Account is located in Singapore. It supports receiving and making payments in over 30 currencies.

    • Receiving money 

    The SGD Account can receive money locally from Singaporean banks. The limit per transfer is SGD200,000 if funds are received via FAST. [9]

    The SGD Account can also receive international payments via SWIFT in 32 currencies. The amount received will be automatically converted into SGD in your account. [10]

    • Sending money

    To make a payment from the SGD Account, you use FAST for local payments to Singaporean accounts, and WISE for international payments to overseas accounts. FAST is the number one payment system in Singapore. There is a limit of SGD200,000 per transfer for both local and international transfers. [11]

    When using WISE to make payments to a business or person overseas, you can choose the currency the beneficiary receives the money in. Aspire makes the foreign exchange calculation based on mid-market rates, the midpoint between the buy and sell prices of the two currencies. Funds can be sent in EUR, for example, to an entity in the European Union. [12]

    Payments can also be scheduled for a future date, which can be handy when managing a large flow of payments. 

    USD Account

    The USD Account is based in the USA. It supports receiving and making payments in 37 currencies.

    • Receiving money

    With a USD Account, you can receive money locally from a US payer, and you can receive international payments via SWIFT. [13]

    For Stripe, you cannot receive USD because you cannot link your USD Account to the Stripe platform. Stripe requires a USD Account to be based in Singapore and Aspire’s USD Account for SWIFT payments is based in the US. You can however link your SGD Account to Stripe and receive payment in SGD. [14]

    • Sending money

    With the Aspire USD Account, you can make local payments within the US and international payments using SWIFT.

    For local USD payments, there is a limit of USD1,000,000 per transfer, but there is no limit to how many transfers you can make.

    For international SWIFT payments, there is no limit to the transaction amount. Money can be sent to any country except those on a prohibited list [15].

    USD payments cannot be scheduled for a later date.

    2. Cards

    Aspire offers account holders Visa cards, which they call the corporate cards, but your business must be registered in Singapore

    You can have multiple cards for employees and external individuals in physical or virtual card form. 

    Corporate cards come with the usual features offered in today’s generation of cards, including monitoring payments in real-time, managing spending limits, recording transactions, and freezing or locking cards.

    An Aspire corporate card can be used for Apple Pay and Google Pay. Cards can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs, with some restrictions, and credit limits can be set for each card. And card users can earn 1% cash back on certain purchases.

    An Aspire corporate card is linked to the SGD Account or the USD Account. If it is linked to the SGD Account, the card’s currency is SGD. If it is linked to the USD Account, it’s USD. If you make a purchase in another currency, the purchase will appear in SGD or USD, depending on which account the card is linked to.

    Other card restrictions may apply but they are not listed on the Aspire website. Contact Aspire for more information. [16]

    Aspire corporate cards

    Foreign exchange 

    In your Aspire business account, you can convert between SGD and USD using their 'Convert Money' feature. This converts SGD in the SGD Account to USD in the USD Account and vice versa. [17]

    Aspire does not mention if a fee is charged for this service, but we assume it’s free. Check with them first before you start transferring.

    Other services

    Aspire aims to be an all-in-one business finance solution for companies. Other services provided include: 

    • Integration services with accounting software
    • Expenses management 
    • Payables Management
    • Receivables Management

    Some of these services might be relevant for your business, so be sure to visit the Aspire website to understand what is on offer. [18]

    Fees charged by Aspire

    We have taken the following pricing information from the Aspire website. Pricing can change, so be sure to check their website for the latest information. [19]

    Plan pricing

    Standard Plan SGD12/month
    Pro Plan SGD99/month
    Custom Plan Custom pricing
    Expenses management add-on SGD5 per user/month

    SGD Account fees

    Receiving  
    Incoming local SGD payment = Free Free
    Incoming international SGD payment [20] SGD35
    Incoming SWIFT payment in another currency Best exchange rate with no fees
    Sending  
    Outgoing SGD payment Free
    Outgoing SWIFT payment in another currency Mid-market rate + WISE fee 

    USD Account fees

    Receiving  
    Incoming local USD payment Free
    Incoming SWIFT payment in USD USD8
    Incoming SWIFT payment in another currency (converted to USD) Best exchange rate + USD8 fee
    Sending  
    Outgoing local payment in USD Free
    Outgoing SWIFT payment in another currency Best exchange rate + USD8 fee

    Card fees

    Payment in foreign currency Best exchange rate with no fees
    Cashback 1% on qualified spending

    Keep in mind commissions charged by Aspire on foreign currency conversions vary depending on the amounts being converted. This is pretty standard within the financial services industry.

    Getting in touch with Aspire

    To contact Aspire, you can lodge a ticket with them. A ticket is simply a request for information they will then prioritize and respond to. [21]

    You can also call them in Singapore, email, use their chat box, or visit their FAQ page for more information. They say they respond to emails within one business day.

    Aspire vs Statrys

    Choosing a business management solution for your payment needs is an important decision. The best choice will depend on the needs of your business. 

    To help you get a clearer picture of your options, we compare Aspire and Statrys on products, pricing, and customer support. 

    Please note, this comparison is a guide only. Make sure you read the fine print for each offering to determine the best solution for your company. 

    Products

    Aspire and Statrys have a similar product offering around business accounts. This includes:

    • Business accounts with local and international transfers
    • Local currency accounts
    • Payment cards (credit cards)
    • Foreign currency exchange

    With Aspire you can hold SGD and USD Accounts, which is great if your business operates in these currencies. If so, Aspire is probably the best way to go.

    If your business operates in multiple currencies and you want to hold money in these currencies, then Statrys might be a better option. For example, if you need a local currency account in EUR for SEPA transfers, Statrys offers that option but Aspire does not.

    Pricing

    Aspire’s standard monthly plan costs SGD12 per month. This equates to around HKD68. Statrys’ monthly fee is HKD88, so there is a slight cost saving there should you decide to go with Aspire. 

    If you want to have multiple users of the business account, Aspire limits users to five under the standard plan. Additional users cost an extra SGD5 per user per month. Statrys has no limit on the number of users. So, if a few people are going to use your business account, then Aspire would be a good pick. If you plan on having many account users, then Statrys could be more advantageous. 

    Comparing international payment fees can be challenging for the uninitiated. When you read the fine print, you will find that Aspire may have slightly cheaper prices in general. But this depends on where you are located and the countries and currencies you transact in. 

    Customer service

    In the international payments business, having a dedicated account manager to help you resolve a problem or issue urgently is a huge asset. 

    We could not find any mention of an account manager on the Aspire website. Getting in contact with them appears easy enough, with a chat box, a response by email in one business day, and a phone number to call. Their ticketing system seems a little technical and would be worth trialling to see if it is the quickest and easiest way to get answers. 

    Statrys is the only fintech offering a dedicated account manager who can be reached via email, phone, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Chatbox. Response times are in minutes, not hours or days. We encourage you to read reviews left by Statrys clients. 

    Ready to set up a Statrys account? Chat with one of our friendly customer representatives.

    Final note

    Anything we missed? Drop us a message and we will do our best to make the review even more comprehensive.

    The Review is based on information available on the Aspire website as of September 2022.

    FAQs

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    Disclaimer

    This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice from Statrys Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties, or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete, or up to date.

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