As a financial hub in Asia, Singapore boasts excellent, state-of-the-art banking and financial services. Many local and international banks and financial institutions offer a full suite of financial services to meet all your financial needs. You will be glad to know that though Singapore has one of the highest standards of living in Asia, its cost of living is kept at an affordable level compared to many Western countries. In this page, we provide an overview of the Financial market in Singapore, latest currency exchange rates, cost of living information and procedures for opening a local bank account.
You can open an account with a local or international bank. Local banks include DBS, POSB, UOB and OCBC. International banks include Citibank, Bank of China, State Bank of India, or HSBC. If you need to open a savings account, simply visit any bank with your passport, Student's Pass and Letter of Admission from ESSEC. A minimum deposit of $100 is usually required if you are below 21 years old.
Once your savings account is set up, you will be able to enjoy the following services: telegraphic transfer, bank drafts, traveler’s cheques and changing of foreign currencies.
Note: Due to Covid 19, opening hours and services may differ. Safe distancing measures are in force in most places. For more info, please refer to the respective bank's website
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)
Bank accounts usually come with Debit cards, that allow you to withdraw money from your bank’s ATM machines, make payments at shops and top-up your EZ link cards. Most ATM machines are available 24 hours. Please note that you cannot withdraw from an ATM which is not from your bank, contrary to Europe. The nearest ATMS to campus are at One-North MRT – DBS & UOB (can use OCBC cards too). Certain ATMs allow you to use overseas cards to withdraw cash (check the relevant symbols at the back of your card & the ATM machines e.g. Cirrus, Plus or Maestro.
Internet/On-line Banking/Mobile Banking
This convenient way of organizing your finances allows you to view your financial records from any mobile phone or computer with Internet access. You can transfer funds, pay for purchases and conduct other financial activities via this mode of banking. All local banks offer online and mobile banking.
A means to pay bills electronically, the Interbank GIRO (IBG) is an arrangement whereby you authorize the Bank to deduct money from your account to pay an organization/merchant on a regular basis. This arrangement requires no further action from you once it has been set up, apart from checks on your part to ensure that there are sufficient funds in your account at time of deductions and the correct amount is deducted.
Issuing and Depositing of Cheques
Cheques usually take one or two working days to clear and they can be dropped off at quick cheque deposit slots near ATMs or at the bank.
Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS)
You can also use your ATM card to make NETS payment for your purchases. NETS is a cashless payment transaction system that deducts the exact purchase amount directly from your bank account at the point of sale. In Singapore many vendors have NETS facilities and will accept NETS cards.
Telegraphic Transfers and Bank Drafts
Money transfers between banks take between four to six working days to clear, depending on the currency, destination, period and the agent bank used. Be prepared to wait in line for assistance when you cash in your bank draft.
Other than banks, you can also change your foreign currencies with licensed moneychangers. These outlets are usually located within shopping malls and commercial centers.
Procedures for Opening a Bank Account
Online account application is only available for Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and Foreigners with valid Singapore work pass (e.g. employment / S pass) or student pass.
For Online Personal or Joint-Alternate Account Application, each applicant will need to upload photos or scanned copies of the required documents. For Branch Account Application, each applicant will need to bring along the original copy of the required documents.
Cost of Living
Below is a compilation of common expense items, per month in Singapore dollars. Correct at of 1st August 2021.
Item Budget per month (S$)
Food 400 - 500
Transportation 30 - 100
Accommodation 700 - 1400
Utilities* 50 - 80
Telecommunications 30 – 60
Medical** 10 – 60
Personal Expenses*** 100 - 200
Books and Stationery 30 - 100
Miscellaneous 100 – 200
TOTAL $1450 - $2700
*May be included in Accommodation costs
**Consultation & meds ~ $50 at clinics, $100 at specialists / hospitals
***Entertainment, household items, etc.
Currency & Exchange Rates
The Singapore currency is in dollars and cents. 100 cents are equivalent to one Singapore dollar. The notes run in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $1,000 and $10,000. The coins run in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and $1. Cashless payment methods include credit cards, debit cards a.k.a. Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS), EZ-Link cards and mobile/internet banking.
Exchange Rates (as of 22nd August 2021)
For the latest rates, please go to Oanda
United States US$1 = S$1.36
Euro Euro 1 = S$1.59
China S$1 = 4.77 Yuan
India S$1 = Rs 54
Indonesia S$1 = 10, 500 Rp
Japan S$1 = 80 Yen
Malaysia S$1 = RM 3.11
Morocco S$1 = 6.60 Dirham
Philippines S$1 = 37 Peso
Russia S$1 = 54 Ruble
South Korea S$1 = 862 Won
Switzerland CHF 1 = S$1.50
Taiwan S$1 = NT$ 20.50
Thailand S$1 = 24.5 Baht
United Kingdom UK Pound 1 = S$1.86
Vietnam S$1 = 16,700 Dong