It is common knowledge that once a Company is incorporated, opening a corporate bank account will be the next step before any business operation commence. Opening a business bank accountin Malaysia is not as tough of a process compared to its neighbouring country, Singapore.  

However, different banks could be more stringent than the others and most of the time they have a different set of rules and regulation in how theyapply the bank account opening process.  

What is a Corporate Bank Account? 

It is commonly knowas a business account. If you are already familiar with the term current account, then you will know that a current account has special facilities that a saving account does not, and it is designed to assist a business to manage itself and their finances better. These facilities include:  

  • Foreign Banking : For businessowners who travel often and wishes to ensure business transactions are smooth regardless of where they are, this feature is very much helpful. With the ever-fluctuating foreign exchange rates, international transactions became much simpler and cheaper by having business bank account.  

  • Issuing Cheque : Much like a regular savings account, a current account is where a businessowner is able to issue cheques for business purpose. This feature assist as a method to payoff debtors with high amount much easily.  

  • Overdraft : This feature allows for withdrawals to exceed your account balance within an agreed amount. This facility is great whereby it is mostly helpful to reduce the possibilities of bounced cheques. It also gives flexible access to cash that you do not own. This means you don’t have to worry about your business not having available cash.  

Is it difficult for a foreigner who owns a Company in Malaysia to open a corporate bank account? 

In lieu of the recent high-profile fraud case, some banks has tightened their anti-money laundering (AML) compliance. Post Covid-19, businessowners who wish to open their corporate bank accounts are normally required to do that by visiting the desired bank branches. Online bank registration is still bizarre during those times. 

However, as time goes on and more foreign investors are keen to operate a business in the country, some international banks such as OCBC and HSBC are moving towards online registration. They have also allowed corporate bank account opening to be done while the owners are not physically present in Malaysia.  

This whatsoever does not include local banks such as Maybank and CIMB. These banks are normally favoured by the local due to a very low initial deposit requirement. Normally, Malaysian can straight away open a corporate bank account over the counter by presenting: 

  • Personal ID / NRIC 

  • Company profile 

  • Resolutions to open corporate bank account 

The process is more straight forward for local business owners compare to foreign business owners.  

Tip: Paul Hype Page & Co. has contacts with a few international and local banks who are able to assist with corporate bank account opening for business owners who are not physically present in Malaysia. Everything will be done online without the need for business owners to fly to Malaysia 

Know-Your-Customer (KYC) practice for bank account opening in Malaysia for foreign business owners 

On 30 June 2020, the central bank of Malaysia otherwise known as “Bank Negara” has issued a policy document on electronic know-your-customer (e-KYC). The policy document aims to accelerate and streamline practices of industry players in their adoption of e-KYC technology, the online process of identifying and verifying individual customers. 

The adoption of e-KYC technology by the industry is in line with the Bank’s efforts to facilitate greater digital offerings of financial services. This is expected to pave the way for greater innovation in the financial sector, including end-to-end offering of digital financial services for customers.  

The policy document forms part of a series of measures adopted by the Bank in ensuring that regulatory requirements support the country’s agenda on digital economy.  

Disclaimer: This statement was retrieved from the Central Bank of Malaysia official website 

Moving forward to the statement released by the Central Bank of Malaysia, most international banks has been practicing e-KYC with their clients, especially post Covid-19. If you are engaged with the Paul Hype Page & Co., we will normally furnish these documents to the banker of choice: 

  • Passport/NRIC 

  • Company profile 

The bankers will then do a background check on the stakeholders within the Company. Once it is clear, the banker will personally approach the clients to advance the process further.  

Local owner VS Foreign owner 

As a local Malaysian, we have an identity card or known as “MyKad”. This “MyKad” is a compulsory identity card with a unique 12-digit number issued to Malaysian citizens and Permanent Resident (PR). A “MyKad” is normally used for any official business made by the citizen and opening a bank account is one of it. 

If a Malaysian wishes to open any bank account, the banker will normally request for some documentations which includes a copy of their “MyKad”. Why? This is because the banker will need to run a background check to ensure the individual is not an exposed person as well as their credit score. 

A credit score of a Malaysian citizen can be checked in two systems which are: 

  • Central Credit Reporting System (CCRIS) by the Credit Bureau of Central Bank Malaysia 

  • Credit Tip-Off Services (CTOS) by CTOS Data Systems Sdn. Bhd. 

A CCRIS report portrays information regarding outstanding payments, special attention accounts as well as a loan application status made by a Malaysian. Whereby a CTOS report provide information on legal matters such as bankruptcy status, legal actions, and case status. It also portrays a Malaysian involvement in businesses and corporations. If a Malaysian CCRIS and CTOS report is clean, a corporate bank account opening will be smooth and might only take around 1 to 2 weeks to open. 

However, the same cannot be said to a foreigner. Bankers normally tap into their international database to ensure the foreign clients have a clean background. Aside from that, there are some nationalities where Malaysia bank policy does not allow to open a bank account. Some of them are: 

  • Iran 

  • Israel 

  • Iraq 

  • Serbia 

The central bank of Malaysia (BNM) has issued a direction stating that “no person in Malaysia shall undertake or engage in any dealing or transaction with or involving a Specified Person.” The direction also stated that “no person in Malaysia shall undertake or engage with any person in any dealing or transaction using or involving Restricted Currency.” 

The term “Specified Person” and “Restricted Currency” refers to the countries sanctioned as involved with political unrest or civil war or high-risk countries.  

Disclaimer: This statement was retrieved from the Central Bank of Malaysia official website 

However, if your country is not listed as a high-risk country by the central bank of Malaysia (BNM), the procedure should be more straightforward after the bankers ensure your background check is clear and the business plan is encouraging.   

Documents needed to Open a Corporate Bank Account 

Once the Company is successfully incorporated, the Company Secretary should furnish you the documents below: 

  • Section 14 – Superform [Application for registration of a Company] 

  • Section 15 – Notice of Registration [Certificate issued by SSM to confirm the Company is successfully incorporated] 

  • Section 17 – Certificate of Incorporation 

  • Section 46 – Particular of registered address 

  • Section 58 – Particular of directors 

  • Section 58 & 236 (2) – Appointment of first Company Secretary 

  • Section 78 – Particular of shareholders and shares 

These documents are crucial for the banker to initiate a bank account opening in Malaysia. Other supporting required to open a corporate bank in Malaysia are: 

  • NRIC/Passport 

  • Business plan 

  • Proof of residential address 

  • Tenancy agreement of business address (if any) 

Different banks will have different requirements and steps of e-KYC depending on the bank policy. However, Malaysian banks still requires for the bank documents to be signed physically by the stakeholders and to mail the original signed copies to the appointed Company Secretary for certified true copy procedure. Only certified documents are accepted for the banker to initiate the bank account opening process.   

The resolution to open bank account will be prepared by the banker and once signed, the appointed Company Secretary will be required to sign off the document and certified true copy as well.  

Timeline of a Corporate Bank Opening 

The estimated timeline given by most banks to successfully open a corporate bank account in Malaysia is normally between 2 to 3 weeks. However, if further investigations are needed, a longer time might be required. 

For instance, some banks such as HSBC will not accept a Company who has corporate shareholder. This is because the process of KYC is more complex, and the risk is high. This will also drag the estimated timeline to open a corporate bank account to around 2 months due to compilation of documents relating to corporate shareholder. 

For those who are not physically present in Malaysia, Paul Hype Page & Co. banker contacts will normally pursuit client via online communication such as Skype meeting, Zoom meeting or Google meet in order to initiate their e-KYC process.  

Once that is done and all background check are clear, the longest they might require to open a corporate bank account might be 3 weeks. It depends on the e-KYC progress between the banker and the client. 

Reasons why corporate bank account opening is not successful for foreign owned Company  

Even though the bank account opening in Malaysia are slightly easy compared to Singapore, it does not mean all bank account opening will be successful. Some of the reasons why the bank account is not able to be opened are: 

  • Stakeholder background is not clean – A passport/NRIC is needed for the banker to do a background check. If the stakeholder is deemed as from FATF country risk, political exposed person (PEP) or special interest person (SIP), then there might be a chance where bank account will not be successful

  • Business plan is not convincing – For a Company to open a corporate bank account, one of the items needed is the business plan. If the business plan is deemed shady or not convincing, banker might have more inquiries, or they might not proceed with the bank account opening altogether 

  • Failure to follow bank procedures – One of the most crucial procedure when banker initiate a bank account opening is the e-KYC. If the client keeps on delaying the e-KYC procedure or failed to furnish the supporting documents requested by the banker, there is a possibility where banker will deem the stakeholder not serious in opening the bank account and will stop the procedure altogether 

FAQs

Why is the appointment of a Director and a Shareholder important during a company registration?2021-03-12T11:41:35+08:00

The Director and the Shareholder are responsible for the signing of the company’s Statutory Declaration for a company to be registered. Without their signatures, the company cannot be registered.

Can a shareholder double up as a director?2021-03-12T11:40:54+08:00

Yes. A shareholder can also serve as a director. However, their legal roles are not the same. A director runs the daily company activities while a shareholder is an owner. Where a director is required, the owner though holding both positions, must assume the role of director and forget about his/her capacity as the company’s owner/shareholder.

Do shareholders in Local Companies with foreign shareholders have rights in Malaysia?2021-03-12T11:40:18+08:00

Yes, they do. Just like local shareholders, foreign shareholders in Malaysia have rights for example in receiving equal shares and equal surplus asset distribution.

Can foreign shareholders be held responsible for the liabilities of a company?2021-03-12T11:32:47+08:00

Yes. Shareholders may not be direct managers of the company where their shares are, but they are held responsible for the number of unpaid shares. They share the liabilities of the company. Even so, the liabilities are limited in that the company\s debts are the responsibility of the company as an entity.

Why are Foreign Companies’s Branch Offices disqualified from receiving Local Tax Incentives?2021-02-09T09:31:35+08:00

The local tax incentives on offer are only available to resident companies. Since foreign companies’ branch offices are defined as non-resident companies, they are not allowed to claim any local tax incentives

What defines a Company as a Tax Resident of Malaysia?2021-02-09T09:24:15+08:00

A company is defined as a tax resident of Malaysia if the management and control of its corporate affairs take place in Malaysia. If at any time during the year, at least one meeting of the board of directors is held in Malaysia, the company will be regarded as a Malaysian tax resident.

What Corporate Taxes are Imposed on a Sdn Bhd Company?2021-02-09T09:21:18+08:00

Ever since the 2018 year of assessment, Malaysian Sdn Bhd companies which have resident status are taxed at 19% if their net profit is below RM500,000 and 24% otherwise. Non-resident Sdn Bhd companies, which are those with over 50% of their shares owned by foreigners, are taxed at a flat rate of 24%.

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