Banking is definitely the biggest headache for most of the e-residents. Due to the AML regulations, Estonian banks are reluctant to work with non-residents. Though each account opening is decided on an individual basis, it’s fair to say that some businesses have more chance of getting the account opened than the other. For example, one-man companies operating in the software industry have a good chance of getting their account opened with an Estonian bank LHV. Companies owned by other legal entities with more complex structures will have more difficulties. It’s just the way some of the banks try to minimize their risks, although it’s normal to have subsidiaries and operate with a fitting company structure.
Additionally to LHV, there are several banks that you can get in touch within Estonia. The biggest ones are SEB and Swedbank, but there are more options: Tallinn Business Bank, Luminor, Citadele, and some others. If you’ve been living under a rock, then it probably doesn’t make sense to try Danske bank.
It’s usually difficult to get a final decision from the bank if you don’t have the company registered. For example, with LHV, you can fill out the application form on their website once you have the company registered, and get a pre-approval – it means you won’t have to travel to Estonia only to find out they won’t work with you.
If you won’t succeed with a bank account opening in Estonian banks, then what are your options? You can definitely try banks in your own countries if that is feasible in your situation. We’ve got some clients that have eventually worked with banks of their own jurisdictions. Additionally, there are Fintech solutions. Fintech solutions are usually operating under the e-money institution license, and they can provide most of the services that you’ll need.
Here are some of the solutions to try out:
Transferwise Borderless – TransferWise can be described as ‘an international money service provider, always converting money at the mid-market exchange rate and charging low transparent fees. TransferWise allows you to send, spend and receive money in over 70 currencies (affiliate link)
This is not a conclusive list, and there are more opportunities out there. If you want to find the best resource for finding your banking provider, check out BankApply.
Let’s check out a few of the most known banking options for the e-residents.
Revolut Ltd is a British financial technology company headquartered in London, the United Kingdom, that offers banking services. Revolut has also obtained a banking license in Lithuania and provides a wide range of banking services. You’ll get an IBAN account and you can do both SEPA and SWIFT payments.
Revolut is currently available for North-American and EEA residents only.
Currently, one of the highest valued Fintechs in Europe.
TransferWise is the best-known Fintech for e-residents, and one of the household names in the whole industry. It’s founded by Estonian entrepreneurs, which can explain the connection to the Estonian e-Residency program.
TransferWise is a UK fintech (operating under e-money license) and is one of the best-known fintechs in the space. In the past 9 years, some 6 million customers have used TransferWise to move over $4 billion dollars each month.
With investors like Richard Branson and PayPal founders Max Levchin and Peter Thiel, TransferWise has become a trusted institution for sending money abroad. It’s free to apply for the TransferWise account, but they do have quite strict policies and it’s not possible for high-risk industries to open an account with TransferWise.
PaySera is another frequently-used digital banking options for the e-residents.
The company provides both daily banking services, such as transfers, currency exchange, payment card and etc., and exclusive products such as an event ticketing system, SMS payment platform, QR code payments, transfers by phone number, payment solutions for schools, and other individual business solutions. In the Baltic States, Paysera is known as the leader in e-commerce and as a reliable and secure partner because of its unique payment collection solution, “Paysera Checkout”.
With a Paysera IBAN account, you can transfer money quickly and easily in many different currencies across the world. Transfers in Europe (SEPA) are FREE OF CHARGE for private clients.
Euro transfers (SEPA) are free of charge and unlimited for all private clients in terms of both number and amount, and for business cost only 0,15 EUR.
Instant transfers (SEPA INSTANT) – in real-time, 24/7, all year round. Both incoming and outgoing. Free for private clients, for business – 0,29 EUR.
Fast international transfers around the world in 30 different currencies within 30 minutes.
Transfers between Paysera users – within seconds by phone number or email address.
According to our experience, it’s very rare that the e-resident can not get the bank opened at all. Matter of fact, we’ve never seen it happen except once, but the reason was the conducted business, nothing else. That been said, sometimes you really need to have an Estonian IBAN to use some of the payment options (like Paypal).
Which is the best option for you? Well, it depends on your business. For a low-risk business, I would go for LHV or TransferWise. If it’s a high-risk business, then you have different options – often more expensive banking options due to risk involved. Either way, there are solutions for everyone, it’s just a matter of finding them.
If you’re looking for banking options and you have a high-risk business or have been rejected from the most known banking options for e-residents, check out BankApply to find more options that are matched with your profile.
To your success!