How to open corporate bank account.
How to complete bank account applications and documentation.
Existing options and challenges for licensed payment institutions, brokers and other licensed financial companies.

What to expect when opening a corporate bank account

Regardless of its line of business, every company needs a reliable banking relationship with a financial institution that understands the specifics of the company’s business operations. FinTech startups often find themselves in the situation where their innovative technology is not thoroughly understood by banks, and opening a corporate bank account becomes a complex task.

Usually, licensed financial entities and fintech startups are in search of banks which are able to offer a wider range of services and a more specialised approach, with services such as nostro accounts, the ability to accept SWIFT messages/orders, access via API, but which can also provide special pricing for professional clients.

Banking/banking-related services Payment Institution startups may need

Payment Infrastructure:

  • Card (credit card) networks: Visa, MasterCard, JSB, Union Pay, etc.

Merchant Services:

  • Merchant acquirers
  • E-wallets/mobile wallets

Payment processing:

  • Volume payment aggregators
  • Currency dealing
  • Accounts: settlement, escrow, virtual, etc.
  • Segregation of client assets
  • SWIFT access / EBICS access
  • Mass payment via SEPA

Card services:

  • Debit & Credit Cards
  • Pre-paid cards
  • BIN sponsorship

Advisory services for:

  • Compliance with PSD/EMD regulations (within the EU)
  • Obtaining authorisation and approval from a national regulator
  • Meeting prudential requirements
  • Meeting KYC and CDD requirements
  • EU passporting

Account opening procedure

Whichever of the aforementioned specialised services your business may need, the relationship with a bank starts with the opening of a business account, which is then followed by other banking services. Account opening in the current business environment can be a rather complicated process due to the strict regulations and requirements banks themselves are facing. This process may become even more complicated when a business represents a “new economy”, has an innovative or unorthodox operating model or requires special terms and conditions.

Usually, the opening of a bank account consists of 3 steps:

STEP 1

  • Clarification of requirements
  • Identification of a suitable bank already working with this type of business (initial valuation)

STEP 2

  • Gathering and preparation of the required documents and completion of applications
  • Review of policies and comparing them to the bank’s requirements
  • Following the bank’s due diligence and onboarding procedures

STEP 3

  • Meeting and (in some cases) interview with the bank
  • Signing of the service agreement

Documents required

A list of documents which, according to the experience of HandelsHaus, are often required by banks can be found below. However, it must be noted that additional documents may be requested, e.g. the curriculum vitae of the Beneficial Owner, contracts with business partners, proof from the local police station of no record of criminal convictions, etc. Additionally, the degree of necessary document certification varies from bank to bank. While some require originals, others may request notarised copies or documents with an Apostille.

Documents that may be requested by banks when opening a corporate bank account:

  1. Company founding documents
  • Memorandum of Association (Charter or By-Laws)
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Resolution on Appointment of Directors
  • Copies of Share Certificates and/or Extract from the Registrar and/or Certificate of Shareholders depending on the jurisdiction
  • Any other Board Resolutions affecting the structure and/or ownership of the company
  • Certificate of Incumbency and Certificate of Good Standing showing the details of Directors/Secretaries/Shareholders dated no earlier than 3 months from the date of account opening
  • Power of Attorney (if the signatory is different from the Director or other Manager of the company, whose authorities are defined in the founding documents)
  • Copies of the passports of the: Director, Shareholder/Shareholders (in the case of individuals), Authorised person, Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO)
  1. Company regulatory documents
  • Proof of licence or authorisation
  • Copy of correspondence with the regulator or supervisory authority
  1. In-house policies and operational manuals
  • Copy of the company’s AML and CDD policies
  • Copy of the company’s operational manual

How long the process should take

Once a suitable bank has been identified, the bank has reviewed the business case introduction and expressed its readiness to consider opening the account, the documents must be gathered and certified as required by the bank. This is the most time-consuming phase and much depends on the applicant, since many documents may require notary certification, translation, legalisation, etc. Furthermore, it may be the case that, after reviewing the received documents, the bank will outline additional requirements, for which the preparation of documents will add a further delay.

In general, the process of opening bank account takes 2-3 months.

While in some cases it is possible to open a bank account remotely, most banks will still require a visit by the company director and/or beneficial owner in person for an interview with a compliance specialist.

How HandelsHaus can help you

As HandelsHaus has experience and contacts in various banks, we know which is likely to open an account for your type of business. This saves clients from contacting different banks and allows them to concentrate on business development.

We also take care of the completion and filing of applications as well as providing you with an accurate list of documents to be submitted to the bank. HandelsHaus carefully analyses your documents and policies, ensuring that all submitted documents are in line with the bank’s requirements.

Roman Loban

[email protected]