The future of business is remote. And while this has been the rising trend over the past decade, never has it been so remarkably tested on a global scale as it is today during times of high uncertainty from the global pandemic to economic volatility.

With all the flexibility and freedom remote working may offer, it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. Especially if you are the founder of a company with no fixed place of residence, corporate banking can certainly feel like a roadblock.

In our last month’s article, we explored where to set up a company if you’re nomadic founder. This month, it’s time to talk about one of the most requested topics in our community: options for business banking as a digital nomad. 

Please note: when we talk about digital nomads or remote founders, we mean anyone who is operating from a place(s) that is NOT their country of residence or origin of their citizenship. This can be anyone who runs a business from multiple bases or travels a lot. 


Digital Banking vs. Traditional banking 

We all know how traditional banking works. You probably opened your first bank account without asking too many questions, simply because your family or friends were hosted by the same bank at the time. Business banking is a world of its own however. Dominating with their widely spread physical presence, large banks such HSBC, Citigroup, ING or Deutsche Bank provide their clients with their multinational footprint of ATMs and service counters across the world.

Initially built for a very different set of needs in the past centuries, most traditional banks are still designed around the core of physical presence, regardless of how fancy their online interface looks like.

This is why most traditional banks require physical visits, physical documents and cash deposits to be delivered before even looking at your direction. 

As a location-independent entrepreneur however, you will want flexibility. In addition to physical freedom, the two things worthy of consideration are 1) the fees you’re being charged accessing your funds from abroad and 2) transferring money from one country to another, especially if operating with many different currencies. Since many of the digital nomads we talk to may source their income from one place, keep it in another and spend it on the third, these transactions will add layers of complexity as well as liability we want to be mindful of.

Traditional and digital banking have their own pros and cons. So depending on your situation, here are some of the most defining characteristics of both types:


Traditional Banking 

(incl. online banking provided by traditional banks) 

Digital Banking

(also known as ‘neobanks’ or ‘branchless banks’) 

  • Established sector with multinational footprint and physical service counters across the world. 
  • Wide range of products and services available for corporate needs
  • Sophisticated levels of insurances, protection and government-backed guarantees (e.g FDIC in the US) in case of insolvency
  • Place of company incorporation determines which banks are available.
  • Requires physical visit(s) to open a business bank account and often proof of residence in the country where the bank is located. 
  • Typically requires minimum initial deposit and/or monthly balances
  • Typically charges monthly/yearly service fees 
  • Service fees on international ATM cash withdrawals & exchange markup
  • Service fees with international money transfers 
  • New sector that has emerged to challenge legacy banking, also referred to as private fintech companies with banking licenses
  • Lean set of products and services available for corporate banking
  • Place of company incorporation does not matter because this sector is digital-only
  • Everything is online. No physical visits required (or possible) for opening a bank account.
  • Zero or minimum setup, monthly/yearly fees 
  • No requirement on minimum initial deposit 
  • No ATM fees worldwide 
  • Lower foreign transaction costs (compared to traditional banks)
  • No exchange markup fees 
  • Growing number of tech integrations and API possibility for larger accounts 



Considering the lifestyle of nomadic entrepreneurs, we will shed more light on the digital banking space in this article. Most of our clients come to us because they want to embark on a paperless journey with the Smart Company model, so their banking should only reflect that choice. 


What are the banking options for location-independent founders? 

This question tops our list in our community. You might be a digital nomad or remote entrepreneur, not a resident in any specific country. Your business has been set-up as a paperless entity, now just have to figure out the banking. 

Here are some options to consider. 


Traditional banking in your country of residence

This is the simplest option of all. You are a local resident, have your company incorporated there and would like to open a business bank account. With all required paperwork and documentation with you, just make a physical visit and most of the time, this will do the trick with traditional banking. 

How is this related to remote founders? This can be your first step, before you start traveling. Traditional banks often do have a widely spread international presence, product offerings and service counters across the world.

This option is especially suitable for those who are testing out the world of digital nomadism for the first time and want to keep an established and secure solution for whenever they come back. 

Just remember to do your homework on all the international services and possibilities that your local branch offers. Make sure they have online banking, so you can manage your transactions remotely.

Traditional banking if you are non-resident

Because most traditional banks require the business to be incorporated in the jurisdiction where the bank is also located, this is a viable option for those with an offshore company. By offshore, we mean a company that is not located in your country of residence. We’ve written about this more extensively in our earlier post. 

To simplify things, most nomadic founders operate in an offshore setting. This means that their company might be incorporated in Singapore while they themselves are located in Thailand and their citizenship is Australian. In this very example, to open a business bank account as a non-resident Singaporean is very much possible, but will depend on the bank, your business and your nationality.

Most banks in this setting would still require a physical visit before getting started.

And the more complex your business field, the more checking will be required, therefore taking longer. 

Some of the more popular banks in Singapore (e.g. Maybank, DBS Bank and OCBC) require a face-to-face meeting with 2 directors or 1 director and the corporate secretary, minimum initial deposit S$500-5000 and a monthly/yearly service fee + monthly base balance after your business has been operating for a while. Similarly, setting up a corporate bank in Seychelles for instance requires a physical meeting after an initial introduction (we can help with both) and a minimum deposit of US$30,000. 


Neobanking for digital natives 

For a location-independent entrepreneur, this might be a sweet spot. While neobanking is still a new school of banking disrupting the traditional banking sector, there are already quite a few great options out there. Let’s look at a few operators in this space: 

Transferwise Borderless

We use this the most ourselves. Borderless banking that suits a variety of users from freelancers and small and medium-sized enterprises to larger companies with direct API integrations. Originally known for their cheap and ease of transferring money internationally, this Richard Branson-backed fintech startup now also provides banking for both private and business. 

How does something like this measure up against traditional banking? Honestly, it might surprise you how many of our clients use Transferwise exclusively for all their business transactions. No setup fees, no monthly/yearly fees and some of the market’s cheapest exchange rates. Hold, send and get paid with +50 different currencies with local banks directly under your Smart Company name. Similar to Transferwise, we also suggest Advanced Payments and Mr. Tango, all of which we will gladly assist you opening free of charge. 


N26 Business

This Berlin-based startup has been stealing headlines, especially amongst the European audience. Branchless and 100% digital, this is a virtual bank where business banking has been designed for freelance or self-employment. Free setup remotely, no minimum deposits, monthly/yearly fees and comes with a debit card. With global access all around the world, ATM cash withdrawals happen without any fees nor exchange rate markups. And perhaps the best part, it offers a 0.1% cashback on all purchases made by their Business Mastercard. 

Sounds perfect for a digital nomad right? Maybe. But the limiting aspects are that an N26 business account needs to be registered under your personal name and you need to have a residential address in the list of countries where N26 operates.



While digital-only banking has been on the rise over the past years, there’s only a limited number of operators that support crypto-fiat trades today. And Revolut is one of the ones worth looking into.

As a virtual banking platform currently 28-currencies strong, Revolut offers legacy banking services online similar to the previously mentioned neobanks. Along with its free banking option, its subscriptions plans allow you to have more team members connected to the account, more transfers, larger withdrawal amounts and bulk payments. 

For those seeking to gain exposure on cryptos, Revolut currently supports 5 major cryptocurrencies (BTC, BCH, ETH, LTC and XRP). This is especially convenient for those who might be paid in cryptos but would like to withdraw fiat currency while traveling. 

However, the same limitations as mentioned for N26 apply here as well. Revolut business accounts are currently only available to a limited amount of jurisdictions. 



Corporate banking for location-independent founders can seem tricky. Most of the time, the place of your company incorporation determines the traditional banks you are able to choose. Traditional banking sector is established, widely spread across geographic locations with a tested set of products and services. But their legacy operations also make it hard to digest for a digital nomad.

Digital banking, on the other hand, seems to offer the kind of solutions suitable for paperless management. The previously introduced list of neobanks is just a scratch on the surface. The list goes and is growing everyday. On top of what we already mentioned, a few honorable mentions go to Monzo (especially for UK citizens), Starling, Simple Bank, Mercury and Charles Schwab (for those in the US). All worth digging into.

These are all digital-only services, so in theory, suitable for all remote founders. In practice however, always do your homework and identify the specific needs in your business and lifestyle to choose the right bank. 


Weighing your options for business banking? We are here to help. Ask us anything -> or reach us on our social media.