For many years, UK citizens had the opportunity to interact with digital banks like Monzo and N26 which offered a better way to bank. Think smart savings features, automatic spending categorisation, separate savings management, real-time alerts and more.
While we have seen some of these features crawl into digital banking apps of our local banks or FinTech platforms like Revolut in recent years, we haven't really got our own native digital banks - until MAS decided to extend digital full bank licenses to up to 5 players in 2020.
Well, until now.
What is Trust Bank?
Trust Bank is a digital bank launched by a partnership between Standard Chartered Bank and FairPrice Group. As a digital bank, it maintains a fully online presence with no physical branches. Its name was inspired by what Singaporeans wanted in a bank - trust.
With digital banking services gaining traction over the past several years, Trust Bank's launch will provide a seamless digital experience for banking services.
Trust Bank products
Trust Bank will launch with savings accounts, credit cards and family personal accident insurance products. There is also a lifestyle aspect of the bank with specially curated deals to deliver additional savings through brand partnerships.
Trust Bank's savings account will offer up to 1.4% yield per annum on your first S$50,000.
The yield is broken down as follows:
- 1% p.a. base yield
- 0.2% p.a. bonus interest if you make 5 eligible card transactions
- additional 0.2% p.a. bonus interest if you make 5 eligible card transactions as a union member
Interest is accrued daily and paid once at the every month.
Besides the relatively high yield, there are other benefits to opening a savings account with Trust Bank:
- No minimum deposit or balance
- No lock-in periods
- No monthly fees
- No fall-below fees
- No account opening or closure fees
- Supports existing payment networks like FAST
- Instant account notifications
- Fully insured by SDIC up to $75,000
- Withdraw cash at any Standard Chartered Bank ATM in Singapore
- Up to 7 years of monthly statements available online
- Link PayNow using your mobile number to Trust
Trust Bank's credit card is a relatively novel card with innovative features:
- No annual fees
- No foreign exchange transaction fees on overseas spend
- No cash advance fees
- No card replacement fees
- Card locking features with fine control
- Numberless card
- Online payments are 3DS enabled
- Up to 21% LinkPoints if you're a NTUC Link Card holder
- Up to 15% LinkPoints if you're a Trust Link Card holder
- Switch between debit and credit depending on your needs in one tap
- Link your card to Apple Pay and/or Google Pay
- Instant approval
- Track your rewards against your targets in real-time
- Receive a S$25 FairPrice E-Voucher when you make your first card spend
Based on the features above, the Trust Card makes FinTech cards like Revolut, Wise and YouTrip obsolete especially when spending overseas.
The benefits of using Trust Card over its competitors include additional LinkPoints, the ability to make local ATM withdrawals, and integration with a savings account that offers up to 1.4% interest.
LinkPoints and cashback mechanics
The card also allows customers to earn NTUC Linkpoints rebates at an accelerated rate - 100 LinkPoints is equivalent to $1.
The headline claim of up to 21% rewards is quite a clickbait, so let's break it down.
Base rate of 2.5%
- 0.5% of FairPrice Group (FPG) groceries (FairPrice, FairPrice Finest, FairPrice Xtra, FairPrice Xpress - excluding Esso outlets, FairPrice online, Warehouse Club, Unity, Cheers - excluding Esso outlets)
- 2% additional for FairPrice members on FPG groceries
- 0.22% on other spend with no cap (except restricted transactions)
Monthly and quarterly bonuses
- Meet your monthly and quarterly minimum eligible spend outside of FPG and receive up to 8.5% monthly bonuses and 8% quarterly bonuses
FairPrice annual member bonus
- If you're a FairPrice member, you can receive 2.0% FairPrice annual member bonus on FPG groceries, up to 12,000 LinkPoints, or $120 equivalent
Notice the rebates are highly beneficial towards NTUC Union members.
If you're a NTUC Union member:
- Earn up to between 11% LinkPoints with debit card with a minimum of S$200 spend outside of FairPrice Group
- Earn up to 21% LinkPoints with credit card with a minimum of S$350 spend outside of FairPrice Group
If you're not a NTUC Union member:
- Earn up to between 5% LinkPoints with debit card with a minimum of S$200 spend outside of FairPrice Group
- Earn up to 15% LinkPoints with credit card with a minimum of S$450 spend outside of FairPrice Group
To sum up, in order to maximise rewards, you want to be using the credit card and spending at least $350 a month outside of FPG while being a NTUC Union member.
When you pay with your Trust Card, you can earn instant offers at certain retail shops, cafes and more.
There are 2 categories of rewards, namely Coupons and Stamp cards.
Coupons lets you redeem discounts at merchants islandwide while Stamp cards are similar to loyalty programs where you can redeem free coffee for every 10 purchased.
You can earn a stamp for every eligible purchase by paying with your Trust Card.
Family protection insurance
Trust is also launching a family personal accident insurance product at launch with coverage of up to $8,000 for death and permanent total disability due to accidents, underwritten and issued by Income.
Not much to explain here.
Experience using Trust Bank
From downloading to registering, and finally using the Trust bank app, the process was very efficient and quick - you can setup an account with MyInfo in less than 5 minutes, and have a digital savings account and card ready in seconds after.
The UX is great, as expected from a digital bank - bug-free, smooth animations and scrolling, beautifully designed and overall very refined experience unlike some of our local banking apps.
There is some learning curve to navigating the UI and there are some obstacles that you'll need to overcome. For example, making outbound transfers for the first time is restricted by a security feature called Trust Key - which requires you to wait 12 hours before using it.
Trust Bank vs the competition
You might be wondering if it's worth signing up with yet another bank.
When compared to existing bank accounts from DBS, OCBC, and UOB, Trust Bank offers a higher interest rate of between 1% to 1.4% on the first $50,000 without lock-ins and minimum deposits.
When compared to cash management solutions like Endowus Cash Smart and StashAway Simple, Trust Bank doesn't offer yields as high but has the benefit of instant deposits, withdrawals, and both PayNow and FAST integration.
This means it's perfect for idle emergency funds that you need within minutes - you can even withdraw your funds held in Trust Bank from a Stanchart ATM machine.
For now, the app is polished but the features on the app are very similar to existing banking apps.
It would be great if Trust Bank could introduce innovative banking features like unlimited sub-accounts, transfer logic, and automation (e.g. move $500 from sub-account A to B every Friday), SGFinDex integration, and other features not found in today's banking apps.
Trust Bank excels if you're an existing NTUC Union member - it's clear that the product is built around NTUC's ecosystem of existing customers.
But even if you don't belong to this group, give them a spin, you might grow to trust them.