There are now hundreds of different online banking and payment platforms available to Australian location-independent business owners. Which is the best option for you?
What are the best accounts for business nomads? The amount of working professionals and business owners operating remotely or in location independent roles has skyrocketed over the last year, primarily due COVID-19 restrictions. Data published by PwC indicates that over 70% of all Australians now desire partially or fully remote jobs, with over 30 percent of the Australian workforce working from home.
The rise of remote working has fuelled a shift toward a new location independent ecosystem that allows business owners to manage their business from anywhere in the world. There are now many different cloud-based tools that allow business owners or freelancers to perform critical tasks remotely, such as the Xero cloud accounting suite.
Banking and finance, however, can be difficult obstacles for location independent freelancers, professionals, and business owners to overcome. Digital nomads, expats working abroad, and international freelancers often find it difficult to find local banking solutions or provide international clients with streamlined payment options.
A new wave of challenger banks and neobanks are disrupting the traditional financial ecosystem, and offering the best accounts for business nomads. These accounts allow location independent professionals to access robust banking services that connect to virtually any banking network in the world.
- Ideally, online business banking services offer most or all of the following features:
- Multi-currency support
- The ability to open separate accounts for each supported currency
- Business-specific accounts
- Low fees for international remittances and currency conversion
- Smartphone app availability
- Regulated or operating with banking licenses
- Physical card availability
While challenger banks provide nomads with a powerful solution to the problem of international banking, choosing the right one for your needs can be a complicated process.
What are the best accounts for business nomads and for Australian location independent workers and how do they work?
Best Online Business Banks for Australian Nomads
- This article breaks down the best challenger banks and neobanks for individuals operating small businesses whilst abroad. There are two key factors that will determine which banking solution is the best fit for any given small international business:
- Location and residency requirements, and
- Physical card availability
Some of the platforms presented below are available to any Australian business owner, while others may require proof of residency or tax status in the country a business owner operates. An Australian business owner working remotely in Europe, for example, may want to create an account with N26 — a leading European challenger bank — but will be unable to do so without the correct tax status in an EU state.
The difficulty involved in obtaining residency when not living or working in a country for an extended period of time can restrict the availability of some online banking platforms to Australian digital nomads.
The following online business banking solutions are best suited to Australian location independent business owners and freelancers that don’t have residency status in the EU or other countries they may visit:
We start our review of the best accounts for business nomads by looking at Wise. Wise, formerly TransferWise, offers a borderless business banking account product aimed specifically at location independent entrepreneurs, business owners, and digital nomads. The Wise business account needs only an Australian Business Number (ABN) to open after first opening an ID-verified Wise personal account, and can dramatically simplify business finances.
- Wise allows users to open both business and personal bank accounts for many different countries, including:
- United States bank accounts complete with ACH and wire details
- UK bank accounts with local account numbers and sort codes
- European bank accounts based in Germany or Belgium with IBAN
- Hungarian bank accounts with local account numbers
- Australian bank accounts with BSB and account number
- New Zealand based bank accounts with account numbers
- Singapore based bank accounts with DBS bank
Importantly, all of the bank accounts that can be opened through Wise business are in the name of the business they are opened in, streamlining tax reporting. The greatest benefit of the bank account options offered by Wise is that it’s possible to accept any type of bank transfer into the accounts provided, as well as make any kind of outgoing bank transfer.
Wise also allows users to create currency-specific wallets in over 50 different fiat currencies, but banking support for many supported currencies is not yet available. Wise also integrates directly with Xero, streamlining accounting processes and tax management.
Notably, Wise offers debit cards for both personal and business accounts. The Wise physical card can be ordered for free and allows holders to directly spend in any currency, anywhere around the world, with rates calculated at Wise’s relatively low exchange fees. In most cases, Wise fees are typically 0.5% on top of interbank rates.
- Wise key features
- Regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) in the UK
- Up to $200 of free ATM cash withdrawals every month
- Free physical card delivered anywhere in the world
- Available to Australian Business Number holders
- Directly integrates with Xero
- Smartphone app for both iOS and Android as well as web interface
- Low currency exchange fees and extremely fast international remittance
What are the other best accounts for business nomads with an Australian base? Australia-based Airwallex is one of the best online banking solutions available to Australian digital nomads and remote business owners. Launched in 2015, Airwallex offers services on par with Wise.
Similarly to Wise, Airwallex allows user to open a variety of different fiat currency accounts that include EUR, GBP, USD, AUD, and HKD. Users can make deposits or transfers from these accounts, or receive payments in the same manner as a normal bank account.
The exchange rates offered by Airwallex are highly competitive — Airwallex charges 0.5% fees for the most widely used fiat currencies, and a 1% fee for less common currencies. It’s worth highlighting the fact that Australian business owners are offered favourable fees of 0.3% and 0.6%.
Airwallex is ideal for Australian business owners seeking a digital banking solution specifically for ecommerce applications — Airwallex is able to send and receive payments directly from online marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon, or connect directly to Shopify and PayPal. Australian businesses targeting the Chinese market benefit from direct WeChat Pay integration.
Like Wise, Airwallex connects directly to Xero. This allows business owners to automatically sync records on an hourly basis or execute batch payments.
A major advantage Airwallex holds over Wise is the ability to issue virtual cards to employees. Business owners can use Airwallex to provide each employee with a login, manage access to various functions, and issue individual virtual cards for each user.
- Airwallex key features:
- Direct ecommerce and online marketplace integration with eBay, Shopify, PayPal, WeChat Pay, and Amazon
- Multiple virtual cards — but no physical cards
- Direct Xero integration
- Separate logins and administrator management for multiple employees
- Send or receive payments in 23 different currencies to over 140 countries worldwide
- Global bank accounts in EUR, AUD, USD, and GBP
Payoneer is one of the oldest and most widely used online banking platforms. Launched in 2011, US-based Payoneer was — until recently — one of the only platforms that allowed international business owners to access US banking details.
While Wise and Airwallex now make US-based banking options available to Australian business owners, Payoneer remains one of the most powerful and robust platforms for US banking. It’s important to note that it’s only possible to receive personal payments via Payoneer — it’s only possible to receive payments from major companies such as Amazon, Shopify, or UpWork.
Payoneer’s feature set is somewhat restrictive when compared to Wise or Airwallex. The fee structure offered by Payoneer is not as competitive as other platforms, with inbound payments subject to a 1% fee.
Payoneer does offer a Payoneer Debit card with an annual fee of $30. Transaction fees through the Payoneer fee are relatively high, with all transactions subject to a 3.5% fee when used outside of the country of issue. ATM fees are similarly high, with every ATM withdrawal subject to an additional 2-3% fee. Lastly, withdrawing money to another bank account typically incurs a 2% fee.
Payoneer’s feature set is not as attractive as Wise or Airwallex, but Payoneer makes up for these insufficiencies with extremely high accessibility — virtually anybody can open an account on the platform.
- Payoneer key features
- Extremely accessible
- Robust US-only banking options
- High fees when compared to Airwallex or Wise
- Functions as a supplement to traditional banks — does not offer full banking functionality
- Physical card available with relatively high fee structure
Best Banks for Nomads With International Businesses
The platforms listed above offer banking services to any Australian with an ABN, making it possible to access complete banking services from anywhere in the world. There are, however, many digital banks and neobanks that are accessible to individuals that possess residency or tax status in a variety of different countries.
In order to open an account with the platforms listed below it’s necessary to possess either residency, tax status, operate a business based in a specific country, or the ability to open a bank account in the countries in which the platforms are based.
Based in Finland, Holvi off3ers one of the best accounts for business nomads. Holvi is a challenger bank that doesn’t operate with a full banking license. Instead, Holvi operates as a payment institution, and is owned by Spain-based BBVA bank.
Holvi offers an impressive range of business banking features that include lightweight invoicing and bookkeeping options, with fees that start from € per month. It’s important to note, however, that it’s only possible to open an account with Holvi if you’re a freelancer or operating a business based in EU member states.
The Holvi platform includes access to a physical debit Mastercard and allows users to make unlimited SEPA transfers within the Eurozone fee-free. It’s not possible to transfer money outside of SEPA banking institutions, which may force some freelancers to consider Wise as an alternative.
- Holvi Key Features
- Provides users with a single account based in either Finland or Germany
- Available only to businesses registered in the EU
- Widely used in Germany, Finland, and Austria
- Free domestic transfers within the EU
- Physical debit card
- Pricing ranges from €9 per month to €98 per month
- Regulated by the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority (FIN-FSA)
- Relatively high foreign currency conversion
- 5% surcharge for ATM withdrawals
Another of the best accounts for business nomads is from N26. N26 is a German neobank that is heavily marketed toward international travellers. The primary offering of the N26 is a card solution designed to streamline international currency conversion and ATM withdrawals while traveling, which is reflected in the business offering of the platform.
N26’s business platform is functionally identical to the personal services it offers. Users are able to access the N26 platform via a streamlined web interface or dedicated smartphone app, which consists of a fully-insured German bank account complete with IBAN.
The N26 business account allows for unlimited free SEPA transfers but, similarly to Holvi, doesn’t allow for any other kind of transfer. If you’re interested in a platform that allows for international bank transfers, it’s best to consider an alternative like Airwallex or Wise.
N26 offers two different types of physical debit cards for business accounts. A plastic card option provides users with 0.5% cashback, while a premium metal card offers 1% cash back on all purchases.
The travel-oriented nature of N26 is revealed in the value-added services the platform offers. All business accounts benefit from included travel insurance and free ATM withdrawal fees in all foreign currencies. Other benefits include car sharing insurance, rental car insurance, and up to €1,000 worth of phone insurance for theft or damage.
Interestingly, N26 now offers COVID-19 coverage for all international travel by account holders after January 22, 2021, which covers the account holder and a travel companion for up to €1,000,000 in emergency medical bills, quarantine, or illness.
- N26 is priced at €9.90 per month for basic “Business You” accounts and €16.90 per month for Business metal accounts. N26 accounts are only available for freelancers or self-employed individuals, however — it’s not possible to use N26 for incorporated businesses.
- Fully-insured Germany-based bank account with IBAN
- Available only to freelancers or self employed individuals
- Ideal for frequent travellers
- Wide range of additional benefits such as travel, COVID, and phone insurance
- Plastic or metal physical card with up to 1% cashback on all purchases
- Low fees
- No access to accounting or invoicing features
Similarly to N26, Monese is primarily aimed at the personal online banking market. The business service offered by Monese, however, is one of the best EU-specific neobanks available, and is one of the only digital banking options available to non-UK residents that possess a UK registered company.
Monese is notable for accepting accounts opened by EU/EEA based business owners or directors with UK registered companies. The Monese business account provides access to a local UK bank account, with EUR accounts set to launch soon.
Monese pricing starts at £9.95 per month, with minimal transaction fees. Accounts are provided with a dedicated debit card with up to 6 free ATM withdrawals every month.
- Monese key features:
- UK bank account for non-UK residents
- Low monthly fee
- Relatively low purchase limits of £7,000 per day
- Physical card with set number of free withdrawals
Monese isn’t the only platform offering UK banking solutions for non-residents. There are many UK-based businesses operated by non-residents, which has created a significant market for banking solutions that overcome visa and residency issues.
Launched in 2016, Tide is a banking solution specifically designed for non-residents that operate UK-registered companies. The Tide platform functions in a similar manner to Monese, with a key difference — Tide offers a variety of automatic accounting and bookkeeping tools, such as Xero integration, transaction categorization, and a dedicated mobile app.
Tide provides users with a UK-based GBP bank account complete with account details, but is only available to sole traders or company owners based in the UK. It’s worth noting that Tide doesn’t support international bank transfers, and only offers UK interbank transfers.
A major advantage of the Tide platform is the ability to create multiple debit cards, making it ideal for business owners operating large teams. Tide allows business owners to issue and manage up to 35 business cards, with no currency exchange markup.
- Tide key features:
- Available only to UK-based companies or sole traders
- GBP UK-based bank account
- No UK residency required
- Low fees
- No international bank transfers
Another of the best accounts for business nomads comes from Bunq. Bunq is the best digital banking option available to location independent freelancers or sole traders based in Germany or the Netherlands. The Bunq business account is specifically designed to integrate with Dutch and German accounting systems, and offers a variety of features that include multiple bank accounts, automatic tax calculation, and multi-user support.
Using Bunq, Netherlands or Germany based digital nomads can create Netherlands-based bank accounts complete with IBAN, which can be accessed via a powerful API for the technically inclined. It’s possible to create Bunq accounts from a number of other EU countries, including Italy and France, but the features offered by these accounts are limited when compared to the services available to Germany or Netherlands based users.
Bunq account pricing starts at €9.90, with daily limits of up to €50,000 — the highest limits available out of the neobanks listed in this article. Bunq also offers OCR document scanning, auto VAT calculation, and the ability to export monthly CSV reports.
- Bunq key features:
- Netherlands based bank account with IBAN
- SEPA transactions only — no international bank transfers
- Relatively high fees for maintaining balances in excess of €100,000
- Designed specifically for Germany or Netherlands based freelancers
Paysera isn’t the most flexible or cost effective banking solution available, but functions as an alternative when the above EU-based neobanks are unavailable. Paysera supports up to 180 different countries, allowing users to create a Lithuania based bank account.
- The services offered by Paysera are relatively limited, and are primarily focused on sending or receiving payments within the EU zone. While Paysera offers relatively high transaction costs, it does offer non-SEPA international transfers.
- Lithuania based bank account
- International transfer support
- Relatively high transaction fees
- Physical card with €10,000 daily limit
What are the best accounts for business nomads outside the EU? Singapore offers location independent freelancers and business owners one of the most flexible online banking solutions available. Aspire, based in Singapore, is one of the most popular digital banking solutions for Asia-based nomads available.
The extreme popularity of Aspire can be attributed to the difficulty involved in setting up banking solutions as a non-resident in Singapore. Opening a traditional bank account in Singapore as a non-resident is typically a time-consuming process associated with high transaction and account maintenance fees.
Opening an Aspire account, however, is extremely straightforward. It’s possible to open and verify a new Aspire account as a non-resident in just 5 minutes, with most virtual debit cards issued by Aspire available for use within just one hour.
Notably, Aspire has no minimum deposit, and no monthly fees. A major draw of the Aspire platform is a 1% cash back feature for a number of different business expenses and attractive mid-market rates for international transfers.
Interestingly. Aspire offers lines of credit to users that meet specific requirements alongside a robust expense management system. Using Aspire, it’s possible to create separate bank accounts for each employee registered to the platform, with specific spending limits.
Aspire is available to non-residents of Singapore with Singaporean companies, and integrates directly with Xero. It’s also possible to incorporate a company in Singapore using the Aspire platform.
- Aspire key takeaways:
- Simplest and easiest banking solution for non-resident Australians in Singapore
- Requires Singaporean business ownership
- Fast credit lines of up to S$300,000
- Accounts available in SGD only
- No physical card — virtual card only
ANother of the best accounts for business nomads comes from Hong Kong based Neat. Neat is roughly equivalent to Aspire — focusing on offering non-residents the ability to create bank accounts as a non-resident. Hong Kong is notoriously difficult when it comes to non-resident banking solutions, making Neat one of the most popular banking solutions for HK-based nomads and location independent professionals.
Neat makes it possible for non-residents to open a HK bank account in minutes, without the need for time-consuming in-person meetings. While the Neat platform allows users to send and receive payments with a local bank account number, it’s not covered by the Hong Kong Deposit Protection Scheme.
- Neat offers users a physical corporate Visa card and offers a variety of business services, including HK incorporation for just $650.
- No monthly fees
- The easiest means of opening a HK bank account as a non-resident
- Account owners must have incorporated in HK, AUS, NZ, CYM, SG, or BVI
Opening a United States Bank Account as an Australian
There are few options available to Australians seeking US bank accounts apart from Wise, Payoneer, or Airwallex. Establishing a United States based bank account as a location independent professional or business owner isn’t impossible, however — Mercury allows non-residents in the US with a US business such as an LLC or corporation to open a simple bank account.
Registering a non-resident LLC in the United States is a relatively straightforward process in most states with minimal tax consequences. Establishing an LLC in Wyoming, Delaware, or New Mexico is, in most cases, the simplest and easiest way to open a US LLC.
Mercury provides non-resident LLC owners in the United States with a simple, effective local banking solution with close to zero fees. Importantly, Mercury accepts accounts from foreign resident managers and owners, delivering a real US bank account complete with debit card.
- Mercury key features:
- Low fees
- Open to non-resident LLCs and corporations
- Attractive interest rates
- Available for use with Stripe or PayPal US
- Physical card with free ATM withdrawals
- Domestic transfer cost relatively high at $5
Other Online Banking Solutions
If you’re not able to open a bank account in the region you’re currently located, the digital banking solutions listed in this article should provide you with an effective solution to overcoming the location independent banking hurdle.
If you’re currently operating a remote business or working remotely as a resident in the country you’re located in, it may be worth investigating neobanks or challenger banks as an alternative to traditional banking options regardless of residency status.
Starling bank, for example, is a powerful neobank available only to UK residents with a business in the UK. While the residency requirements of some neobanks are restrictive, they can function as a far more cost effective solution than traditional banking options.
Starling’s Business Toolkit plan offers UK residents a digital bank account with advanced accounting features for just £7 per month, making it one of the best options available to dual UK/Australian residents based and operating businesses in the United Kingdom.
The right online banking option for your location independent business will vary based on your requirements for international remittances, physical cards, and monthly fees.
If you’re looking for a robust, feature-rich banking platform open to Australian residents with just an ABN, Wise or Airwallex are likely the best options available. If you’re based in the EU or UK, you may want to consider a platform such as Holvi or N26.
Choosing the best accounts for business nomads can be a complicated process. If you’re currently considering a banking platform for your location independent business or a streamlined banking and accounting solution, reach out to Fullstack for guidance today.
(Note we may receive a comission from providers listed above.)