Your company’s specific requirements will determine the choice for a bank; this might not always be a Dutch bank, especially when you have a sole proprietorship or rather small business. Keep in mind the following requirements.
Cash management & online banking
If there is a strong connection with your Dutch operations then the best starting point is to discuss with your home bank. Most established Dutch banks have a branch in Singapore and can support your business when it reaches a certain threshold in revenue. If operations are local vested or expected revenues do not meet this threshold (possible for a Sole Proprietorship when it’s a freelance business), it might be preferable to go for a Singapore bank due to the number of outlets and local capabilities. A third alternative is to go for a regional player in South East Asia if you plan to be, or already are active in neighboring countries. Please note that information requirements are substantially higher than in the Netherlands and detailed information on shareholders and directors will be required. Banking regulation is strict in Singapore and as such getting on board can be a time consuming process.
The obvious choice would be execute you foreign exchange transactions with the bank handling the cash management. Dutch banks might have more competitive rates when it concerns transfers to The Netherlands and pose a good alternative if you have an account in Singapore.
Bank Guarantees, Trade services, Financing, & other banking needs
Singapore is a country where people still use checks and cash deposits. You will probably come across some payment services that you had considered ‘long gone’. Check if a Singapore bank supports Internet banking (and what fees it charges) and whether it can offer you the Bank Guarantee to support your offer in case of tenders or office rent. You might also want to check the amount of ATMs a bank has, because you can only withdraw money from the ATM machine of your own Bank. Major Singapore banks are DBS (the largest number of ATMs and you can also withdraw cash from POSB ATMs), OCBC and UOB. Do shop around; rates for a Bankers Guarantee can be rather competitive, especially at the smaller banks in Singapore.
Contact details and market research by Dutch banks present in Singapore: