Best banks for small and medium businesses


When you run your own business, you already have plenty to worry about. And who you bank with shouldn’t be at the top of that list. That’s why we’ve put together the best banks for small and medium businesses in India. Whether you are a new startup getting all the pieces together, or an established mid-size enterprise, it's always good to know that you have the right banking partner for you.

What is Business Banking

Business banking can often go by other names- retail banking, commercial, or corporate banking. But overall business banking is services provided by a bank to small to large companies.

Business banking services can include
  • Daily use current accounts
  • Savings account
  • Loans
  • Credit
  • Working Capital
  • Trade Services
  • Foreign Exchange Services
  • Cash Management Systems

The accounts and services are all to be registered under the company itself, and not an individual, to count as business banking.

HDFC bank

With business banking at HDFC, you get quite a few different account options and access to services, but with paying more manageable fees than other banks.

  • Winner of India’s Best Bank 2018 by Euromoney Excellence Awards, and the Best Private Bank in India by The Banker Global Private Banking Awards 2018¹
  • HDFC has over 15 different current account options
  • The average quarterly balance for a regular current account is ₹ 10,000²

This award-winning private bank has tailored options for startups all the way up to large corporates. You can pick the right account for you with HDFC bank by either looking at your annual turnover, segment or transaction patterns. This digitally up-to-date bank also has an easy to use app and an application process that you can start online. For a strong India based bank, HDFC can be a good option. But if you are looking for making or getting payments internationally, watch out for the fees.

Citi bank

*Citi was one of the leaders in global banking and offers premium services to Indian businesses, but their fees may be difficult to digest for some. *

  • A large network around the world for making international transactions
  • There are different minimum account balance fees if you are in a Tier 1 or Tier 2 city³
  • Citi offers investments for large corporates under Commercial Banking and business services under CitiBusiness

Citi bank offers business current accounts to Indian businesses as well as a slew of services like loans, trade services, credit, foreign exchange, and cash management services. The main differentiator between services and fees offered is the monthly size of the total relationship value. So although they have a startup specific account, the size of the fees at Citi can be found to be high for smaller businesses.

Their legacy strength has always been in foreign exchange and international trade services. But if you are looking for a modern company with a with a convenient solution for receiving foreign payments, then look no further than Wise for business.

Kotak Mahindra bank

Founded in 2003, this private sector bank offers Indian businesses different options from a startup account to a tailor-made large corporate account, on top of point-of-sale and export services.

  • ING Vyasa has now merged with Kotak Mahindra
  • Kotak offers customizable packages for businesses
  • The Neo Current Account has an average quarterly balance maintenance of ₹10,000⁴

Kotak Mahindra bank offers Indian businesses a number of services along with their current accounts. This includes managing collections and payments, liquidity management services to grow your business and helping to make a digital transformation in your company. Similar to other banks, Kotak segments its business account offerings by the average quarterly account balance. Their fees are comparable with other Indian banks, but even small foreign transactions can be expensive.

Axis bank

A large bank available across India, Axis offers a small catalog of business accounts and is less digital than other Indian banks, but with low fees, it may be worth a look for small or micro-enterprises.

  • The 3rd largest private sector bank in India⁵
  • 7 different standard business current account offerings, but industry-specific accounts also available.
  • The Prime Normal account has a monthly average balance of ₹10,000 and a cash deposit limit of 2 lakhs⁶

Axis bank segments their offerings in 3 categories- Prime, Priority and Wealth. Each category comes with its own services and features. They don’t offer an online account opening process, however. To open an account with Axis, you will need to provide your basic contact details and an Axis business banking account representative will give you a call. There aren’t startup specific bank accounts available yet, but with low fees and balance requirements, Axis can be a worthy consideration for small registered businesses.

ICICI bank

For businesses operating domestically, ICICI has innovative and digital solutions for business banking and expanded services depending on your account size.

  • ICICI has 4,882 branches across the country, making it one of India’s large private banks⁷
  • Startup specific accounts available to help with registration and networking
  • 115 business services include help with GST payments, working capital, and trade services⁸

ICICI bank has two categories of business current accounts- Regular and Premium. Their Regular current accounts are stated to be best for businesses like self-employed professionals, small retailers, traders, or any that have an annual turnover of less than 2 Crore⁹. Premium accounts require a minimum average balance of a few lakhs but come with additional free services and features.

ICICI also has a specific current account option for import and export businesses as well. Check the small print on your account as well as some of the accounts offer free services only within the registered city. But also In a digital push, ICICI recently launched a new app called ICICI InstaBiz to make services easier to access for businesses. However, similar to many Indian banks, working internationally can take a good amount out of your wallet with ICICI.

Doing business overseas and need to receive international business payments? Wise could save you money versus your bank

Doing business has changed, why not get an account that can keep up? Wise for Business was made for modern businesses that are not limited by borders. You get account details in 8 foreign currencies that lets your clients transfer your payments with a local transfer on their end.

There is one low fee on receiving money directly to your bank account, and all transfers are converted to INR at the mid-market exchange rate — which is same as the one you see on Google.

Open your Wise Business Account

Wise Business Account available for businesses and freelancers in India

How to choose a Business banking partner

Now that we know what business banking encompasses, how do you figure out which business banking partner to choose? Your business is unique and has different needs, but there are some ways to identify a strong partner.

Average Current Account Balance

One major area to look at is the minimum account balance you will need to maintain in the business current account without being charged. The minimum, which can also be an average at certain banks, is usually looked at monthly or quarterly. If it goes below the bank’s stated amount, you could be looking at fines. This number differs from bank to bank, so you might find that certain banks have lower averages or minimums that make it easier for new businesses to maintain an account.


All banks charge different fees for business banking. Some may offer certain fees waived or services for free depending on the bank and the type of account. This is probably the first thing you look for when choosing a bank, so make sure you read the fine print.

Payment options

Another parameter of identifying a good business banking partner and account is transaction types. Try to match your inflows and outflows with the type of banking withdrawals that the account can expect. For instance, if you write a lot of checks or if you primarily use online banking, there are different types of banking partners that have more attractive packages for each.

Industry-specific accounts

Besides the size of your business, many banking partners in India can offer industry sector-specific business banking as well. So if you are in agriculture, there are accounts that help deal with seasonality. Or manufacturer-specific accounts with extended credit lines. Or a few banks, as you’ll see below, offer startup packages with lower fees and networking opportunities.

Local versus pan-India

Does your business operate locally or do you need services across offices in India? Banks may have additional fees to a bank outside your designated city. So whether it's for cheque pick up from satellite offices in the country or if your business is online and you only need intra-city services, talk to the bank about what they may charge for.

Foreign exchange

With more Indian businesses going global, foreign exchange services may become a more and more important part of the business banking puzzle. But that’s not to say that all banks are keeping up with the times. So check how much it may cost you to pay vendors or teammates abroad.

Customer Service

Last but not least, how easily do you want access to customer care or a relationship manager. Truth be told, some banks have an easier customer service than others. Many banks, especially after you reach a certain account size, offer dedicated relationship managers that can come to your office and sit with you to discuss your accounts and needs. Or others provide significant information online. Make sure to choose a bank that has a customer service that works best for you.

Sources used for this article

  1. HDFC Awards
  2. HDFC Current Account
  3. Citi
  4. Kotak Mahindra
  5. About Axis
  6. Axis Current Account
  7. About ICICI
  8. ICICI Business Banking
  9. ICICI Regular Current Accounts

All sources checked as of 18 September, 2019

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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