December 29

The ultimate showdown: Here’s the Maribank vs GXS interest rate review

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Recently, I spoke to someone working at GXS, who told me about the mission behind GXS.

It’s to serve the unbanked, those who traditionally don’t have much access to banking services.

And as the Singapore CEO, banking veteran Charles Wong said on 31 August 2022,

“GXS is a homegrown bank on a mission to support the needs of the entrepreneurs, gig economy workers and early-jobbers in our community.

To start, we are challenging the notion of what a basic savings account could do to support their goals and dreams.”

It sounds fancy, but does it really work?

I used it to find out.

Let’s talk about the saving rates

Whilst they started with a 3.48% rate to pull users in, they reduced that promotional rate to 2.68% for their savings pocket earlier this year.

Yes, there’s a hoop - you need to transfer it into the pocket.
Yes, there’s a hoop – you need to transfer it into the pocket.

And I will have to be honest, it’s a real pain to keep transferring between pockets just to get the better rate. Leave it in your spending pocket, and you will see yourself getting 2.38%, instead of the 2.68%.

That’s partially why I just parked all the cash into Maribank, which has a 2.88% rate (at least till Mar 2024).

It’s flat, there’s nothing I need to do to transfer between pockets, and it was just easier.

Take the example of Maribank, which just has an easy 2.88% flat. No transfer, no pockets. Nothing. Just interest. Daily.

Pockets are a pain in the butt.

Really.

Let me show you why. When you start, you will see this interface.

You will have to transfer between your main and Savings Pocket to maximise the interest.

When you click into the savings pocket, there are additional steps you need to take to decide how you’d like to fund the account.

For all their talk about better user experience, this was the one part that did irritate me.

Enough about pockets. Let’s talk about the rest of the banking experience.

Clock speeds are fast, super fast

To make this more useful, I ran an experiment to test the loading speeds of the apps. You know the stupid DBS symbol that you see spinning around?

You hate that?

Well, me too.

That’s why we went to time how long it took to reach the PayNow (probably the most used function) or to sign in.

GXS was consistently one of the fastest amongst the digital banks. It does seem that its digital infrastructure is laser fast, compared to the rest of the digital banks.

Even Trust, which seems to have stolen a march on its rivals with its rapid execution.

Bank Time taken to reach PayNow or signed in page Remarks
DBS Bank 4.67s  
OCBC 4.78s  
UOB 2.95s Out of the traditional banks, this is significantly faster.
Maribank 1.53s This is inconsistent, and tends to slow down and may take around 10 seconds around 11am to 3pm which may be when it’s the peak period.
Trust 1.97s  
GXS Bank 1.64s This is consistently one of the fastest to log-in.
Wise 1.47s  
The loading=
Fastest bank?
The loading time to reach the signed in page for GXS was one of the fastest, though it may be because there are relatively fewer functions for now.

Beautiful interface, with little (form and function) in between

I acknowledge that their design is clean, and reminds me of international payments provider Wise’s interface.

There’s little time taken to load, with little lag. But honestly, when you’ve not much function beyond:

  1. Adding money in
  2. Transferring money out

There’s not much that could possibly lag the system.

It wasn’t till October 2023 that they introduced their debit cards.

But as of now, you still can’t use Apple Pay with the cards, which does once again limit how you’d spend with the cards.

The TLDR? Bring the card.

Doesn’t sound very intuitive for a digital bank, heh?

I thought so too.

But we get it.

You’re still learning the ropes of operating a bank.

But okay, let’s move on.

Their loans can be dangerously addictive

When you’ve so much choice over how you’re going to borrow, I think this is dangerous if you’re not familiar with credit.

Very dangerous.

Credit can be a ticking time bomb if you’re not careful. Especially when you look at the lovely gloss of the iPhone 15, and it’s easier within reach with just a few taps, you might think that you should get it.

Even though you don’t have the money.

Whilst the headline advertises a 2.99% interest rate, it might end up rolling into something higher.
Whilst the headline advertises a 2.99% interest rate, it might end up rolling into something higher.
And if you look below, the interest rate is variable. They might change it based on how credit worthy they think you are.
And if you look below, the interest rate is variable. They might change it based on how credit worthy they think you are.

It’s dangerous to leave the mindset that

oh, I can just pay for it next month with my salary.

It’s called a payday loan, because all (or most of) your salary goes towards paying loans.

GXS has made it even easier to pay back, giving you the option of how much and when you want to repay.

My stand on this is clear. More choice needs to be exercised with more care.

Ms Jean Lee, communications manager at Adullam Life Counselling, a charity that offers credit counselling, shared in a recent interview with Channelnews Asia,

Right now, the second largest group in our counselling centres are those between their 30s and 40s.

About 29 per cent of those seeking help at the organisation are between 31 and 40 years old, just slightly behind the 41 to 50 age range, which is the largest group at 30 per cent.

I’m not blaming GXS, but the general move towards easy credit, buy now pay later schemes, and social media exacerbating demand, could contribute to this.

Should you use GXS?

I try to simplify my banking experience as much as possible (though I do have 6 different bank accounts, just in Singapore alone. Don’t laugh.)

But for me, using GXS doesn’t make much sense when there is Maribank with an even larger interest rate attraction of a 2.88% interest rate.

You might possibly get points back if you’re deeply embedded in the Grab ecosystem (you Grab, and Grab Food everyday, and I mean everyday).

But you might take a long time before you even see the rewards paying off.

In the meantime, I’m still sticking with Maribank for my savings, and the UOB One Debit Card for my daily spend.

 


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