If you are a new or seasoned entrepreneur, chances are you’ve started your business using your personal savings.
At some point, however, it’s important to separate your personal finances from your business finances. Doing so limits your personal liability, and establishes your company’s legitimacy to your clients and the government.
The first step to segregating your business and personal finances is to simply open a business bank account. Business banking is a range of bank services that are tailored to meet the financial requirements of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and enterprises. Thus, they have different financial tools and benefits from personal bank services — making them better suited in managing SMEs’ financial processes, cash flow management, and business growth.
Business banking helps you segregates your business finances from personal finances. This is an important step towards establishing your business legitimacy, building a good financial history with your bank, and limiting your personal liability.
What do you need to open a business banking account in the Philippines?
You need to provide identification documents, proof of business registration, and proof of address for the business. You may also need to provide additional documents depending on the bank and your type of business.
These are the most common requirements to open a business banking account:
- Certificate of Registration from BIR and DTI
- Valid IDs of the business owner/s and partners
- Proof of business billing (utilities billing such as electricity, water, internet etc)
- Business tax identification number (TIN)
- Business banking application form
- Specimen signatures
- Initial deposit
For partnerships and/or corporations:
- Articles of Incorporation
- Certificate of Registration with SEC
- Corporate by-laws
- General Information Sheet
- Partners’ Resolution or Board Resolution for opening of bank account
4 types of business banking accounts
- Checking account. Having a business checking account allows you to deposit and withdraw large amounts of money, pay bills and suppliers, issue post-dated checks, and manage expenses and other day-to-day financial activities. Most companies also use this as their payroll account.
- Savings account. Just like people, businesses must also set aside money for future plans and financial emergencies. A business savings account with a high interest rate is therefore a must for every SME: it gives your company a strong cash position, allowing you to grow and adapt to change as needed.
- Corporate credit card. While not necessarily a business banking account, you can apply for a corporate credit card in any bank that’s able to give you a high credit limit, low interest rates, and business-friendly features. It’s a good way to get quick access to cash, while providing special perks from credit card points.
- Merchant account. A lesser-known business account type in the Philippines, a merchant account lets businesses accept electronic payments for their online stores. A payment gateway attached to the account allows for quick and easy online payments without manual verification. The merchant account then automatically deposits customer payments into your selected savings or checking account, saving you the time and hassle of waiting for credit card payments to clear.
How to open a business banking account in the Philippines
Opening a business banking account in the Philippines can be done by following these steps:
- Choose the business account type that you need.
- Choose a bank that suits your business needs.
- Prepare the required documents for your chosen account and bank, such as valid IDs, business registrations, and application form.
- Visit the bank and submit your application, along with the necessary documents.
- Wait for the bank to approve your application and activate your account.
Business banking options in the Philippines
The Philippines has a slew of SME banks, and most commercial banks in the country offer business banking solutions. Thus, we’ll only cover the more popular and comprehensive options in this article. Take note that this is not an endorsement of any of these options — with every business being unique, only you can say which bank or platform serves your business needs best.
BPI BizLink is a comprehensive business banking portal by the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). Note that this is not a business account; rather, it’s an online service that helps you manage multiple BPI business accounts and transactions in one place.
With BPI Bizlink, you can create and approve business transactions for multiple accounts via app or web. You can choose between two bundles upon enrollment: the Bizlink BPI Digital Access, which has no Average Daily Balance (ADB requirement); and the Bizlink BPI Core, which comes with additional features such as government payments, but requires Php 100,000 in Average Daily Balance (ADB) for all enrolled accounts.
Security Bank Digibanker
Security Bank’s Digibanker is another online business banking portal to help Security Bank business clients manage their cash flows, payments, and business transactions. Their services include receivables management, vendor payments, eGov payments, liquidity management, and fund transfers.
A unique feature of Security Bank Digibanker is that it allows online enrollment in the Security Bank website. You only have to forward hard copies of your documents to the bank and wait for verification.
Unionbank MSME Business Banking Hub — or Unionbank Hub for short — is an online platform for MSMEs. Similar to BPI Bizlink, Unionbank Hub also comes in a web and app version to help you manage your account transactions in a friendly interface.
To access Unionbank Hub, you’ll have to open a business checking account first. There are two types: the Business Starter, which only needs Php 5,000 in initial deposit; and the Business Check, which requires Php 100,000 in initial deposit but comes with free checkwriting software. Like Security Bank Digibanker, you can also complete your application online by visiting their website. Once you have a Unionbank business checking account, you are automatically enrolled to Unionbank Hub.
BDO Business Online Banking
BDO Business Online Banking is the online user portal for BDO Cash Management Services (BDO CMS), a full suite of solutions to help BDO business account holders manage their cash and liquidity. As part of BDO CMS, BDO Business Online Banking offers online collection services, payments services, and information services.
To sign up for BDO CMS, visit a BDO branch or talk to a BDO SME Business Development representative. You can choose from two CMS packages: the Small Business Package, which offers cash management, a payroll account, and government agency contributions; ****and the Manpower and Personnel Management Business Package, which offers the same services at a larger scale for businesses with at least 100 employees. Both packages include BDO Business Online Banking.
Unlike the banking solutions above, Philippine Business Bank (PBB) is a Philippine savings bank for both <SMEs and individuals. While not as popular as the rest of the options mentioned, Philippine Business Bank has a more specific focus on MSMEs that allows them to offer a wider variety of industry-specific business loans. They also have a lower barrier of entry for checking and time deposit compared to more known banks. For checking, you only need a minimum initial placement of Php 10,000 for corporate accounts.
Take note, however, that their online banking services are very limited. Unlike the rest of the options in this list, Philippine Business Bank does not have an app — which may be an important consideration if you prefer to conduct most of your business transactions online.
What factors should be considered in business banking?
When considering a business banking partner, there are several factors to keep in mind:
- The type of business account you need. Consider your purpose for business banking: is it for day-to-day expenses, savings, payroll account, or increase in working capital? This will quickly narrow down your choice of banks to those that can reduce your banking fees, provide better cash management tools, or offer perks for frequently using their services.
- Fees and charges. Banks charge fees for maintaining your account, maintaining your employees’ payroll accounts, making transfers, foreign exchange, and other services. These fees add up over time and impact the overall value and convenience of using the bank. By comparing fee structures between banks, you can choose one that offers the services you need at a fair cost.
- Online banking options. For many business owners, the ability to view accounts and perform transactions in real-time without the need to visit physical bank branches is indispensable. If you find this important, make sure your bank offers user-friendly online banking portals and mobile apps that allow you to access your account, view your transaction history, transfer funds, and pay bills easily and securely.
- Interest rates. Savings accounts with higher interest rates allow your business to earn more money on their savings. This additional income can be re-invested in the business or used to cover expenses and emergencies. On the other hand, banks that provide affordable loan interest rates helps you pay less for a business loan in case you need to expand or plug cash flow gaps.
- Access to funding. Business loans and credit lines can help you serve more customers faster, negotiate better terms with your suppliers, and generally make managing cash flows a lot easier. A bank that offers different funding options can help your business grow by giving you more flexibility on loan product features, interest rates, and repayment terms.
When considering a business banking partner, keep in mind that you don't always have to stick to one provider. It's important to evaluate your needs and explore different banking options to select the most suitable business banking partner for your needs. Additionally, if you have multiple accounts, consider using a comprehensive business banking portal like BPI BizLink, which allows you to manage multiple business accounts and transactions in one place.
Advantages of business banking for SMEs
- Enhanced Financial Management. Business accounts from reputable banks, such as BPI BizLink and Philippine Business Bank, simplifies accounting and taxation processes. They allow you to make larger payments, track expenses, and monitor cash flows. Oftentimes, they also come with special benefits like waived fees and lower forex rates.
- Access to Specialized Services. Business banking provides access to specialized services like cash management solutions, which automates payment processes and efficiently manages your payables and receivables. You can also accept more payment methods like credit cards and digital wallets
- Credit Facilities and Financing Options. Business banking institutions offer credit lines and SME loans for working capital, business expansion, equipment purchase, and other growth initiatives. Establishing a good relationship with your bank and maintaining a positive loan payment history also improves your chances of obtaining favorable loan terms and higher credit limits.
- Risk Mitigation and Security. Business banking solutions have robust security features such as multi-factor authentication and encrypted transactions. You can also set up alerts for unauthorized access and suspicious activities to better protect your business from fraud.
- Easier Management of Employee Transactions. Business accounts often come with debit cards or credit cards for your employees, which you can customize according to your needs. With payroll account services and access to e-payment facilities for BIR, SSS, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth, salaries and government benefits for your employees also become easier to manage.
Disadvantages of business banking for SMEs
- Documentation and Eligibility Criteria. Setting up business accounts require complete business registrations and extensive paperwork before you can start operating. Meeting these requirements can be time-consuming since most registrations and applications require that you appear in person — posing challenges for SMEs with limited resources.
- Costs and Fees. Just like consumer accounts, business accounts come with multiple fees and charges for monthly maintenance and transactions. However, these fees are often higher due to the bigger amounts of money involved in businesses. Minimum required deposits and maintaining balances for savings and checking accounts are also higher, so ensure you carefully review the fees and terms of your chosen account to understand the potential costs involved.
- Limited deposit protection. The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) only covers up to Php 500,000 for all depositors per bank — including businesses. If your business qualifies as a small to medium enterprise, which DTI defines as businesses with an asset size of more than Php 3 million and employing 10-99 workers, PDIC’s insurance coverage will cover a very small portion of your deposit.
Business banking presents significant advantages for Filipino SMEs by empowering them with specialized services, improved financial management, and access to credit facilities. While there may be some drawbacks, SMEs can overcome these challenges by carefully evaluating their needs, exploring different banking options, and selecting the most suitable business banking partner for their needs.
First Circle’s Revolving Credit Line allows you to keep working on projects and payments without having to wait for a loan. This frees up your time to manage other parts of your business. To secure your business for future cash flow gaps and emergencies, apply for a credit line with First Circle by filling out our short online application form.