Steps Prior to your First Remittance

Remittance is not as straightforward as a currency exchange. You cannot walk into a remittance outlet, or an online remittance website for the first time and expect to go through the process immediately.

In Singapore, all licensed remittance companies would required by law to open an account with you before assisting you with your money transfer request. This process is known as Know-Your-Customer (“KYC”). The good news is that, more companies are using technologies to perform this KYC with minimum hassle and you only need to go through this once.

Some of the ways to open the account are as follows:

1.Online KYC
There has been several new technology companies providing seamless remittance services with the KYC performed online. The Singapore government has also developed new country-wide technology like MyInfo (https://www.singpass.gov.sg/myinfo/intro) to help Singapore residents to provide their details to affiliated companies efficiently and securely.

Companies such as TransferWise or InstaReM allow you to register and conduct an identity verification online via MyInfo.

Images from https://www.singpass.gov.sg/myinfo/intro

2.Online and face-to-face KYC
Some companies may first attain your details online and then arrange a face-to-face meeting with you to verify your identity.

WorldFirst or CurrencyFair, for example would require you to fill in an online registration. They would screen your details and would contact you to arrange to meet you in person to complete the registration

3.Face-to-face KYC at retail outlets

Many of the traditional remittance companies would requires you fill in a physical form and be in person to complete the registration. Nevertheless, you can complete your remittance transaction on the same day.

Whilst verifying your identity, some companies would require additional documentations. Some of these documentations could be a proof of address* when your ID did not indicate any address. If your remittance request is large, documentation proof of your source of funds** may be required

*Usually for non-Singapore citizens or permanent residents. Such proof of address can be your bank statement issued in Singapore, Telecommunication bills or your Tenancy Agreement.

**Document proof of your source of funds varies. If it is your salary, such documents can be your tax notice of assessment. If it is your savings, some companies would require your bank account statements.

After verifying your identity, companies will screen you and your beneficiary to check if you are a known sanctioned person. They wish to ensure a low risk of money laundering and terrorist financing. Some companies may also consider you a high risk if you are closely related to a politically exposed person, someone with prominent public functions in Singapore or a foreign country. Remittance companies may not accept you as a customer or transaction if they find you a high risk.

Having said that, banks do these checks as well when anyone was to open an account. In most cases, few people will have any issues and can have their accounts opened to remit almost immediately. If you do not face any problems opening a bank account, you would not encounter any hassle.

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