About The USA

The USA is currently the world's largest economy and is one of the two world powerhouses. The US dollar is the most used currency in international transactions and is the world's foremost reserve currency. Several countries also use the US currency as their domestic currency. The USA is the world's largest trading nation and the second largest manufacturer in the world, accounting for a fifth of global manufacturing outputs.

The USA offers economic freedom to its private sectors with minimal regulations and government involvement. Property rights are strongly protected as well. With its abundance of natural resources, skilled labour and the largest domestic consumer base in the world, the USA is often ranked highly in the Ease of Doing Business Index and is one of the most competitive economies in the world.

The USA has free trade agreements with 20 countries and is also actively involved in regional trade agreements.

Its banking system is regulated by both federal and state governments, with five large multinational banks dominating the financial scene while accounting for more than half of the USA's economy.

The USA and China share the most important bilateral relationship in the world as the world's two powerhouses. China is the USA's third largest export partner, as well as the USA's largest supplier of goods and services.


US Market Profile Infographic_small

What solutions are available in United States?

Solution Description
Treasury Centres A centralised treasury is one way to reduce the tax burden, centralise risk management, improve liquidity and enhance yield on cash.
Interest Optimisation Maximise your interest yield from for your balances held with the bank.
Notional Pooling Cash balances in different accounts are notionally offset to derive the net balance, which is then used to calculate interest.
Sweeping/ Zero Balance Account (ZBA) ZBA are checking accounts with zero balances where funds are physically swept to eliminate excess balances and maintain greater control over disbursements.
Intercompany loans Similar to bank loans, intercompany loans refer to lending between entities within the same group.

Corporate Treasury in The USA

The USA is the world’s largest economy and has the world’s biggest debt market. Here, we highlight some of the key benefits relevant to treasury and cash management in the USA.


Financial Market Development

  • The World Economic Forum ranks the USA second in the world for financial market development in The Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018.
  • It rates the USA first in terms of access to financing through local equity markets and venture capital availability and second for ease of access to loans, although it comes in 24th for the soundness of its banks.
  • The USA has excellent business infrastructure with a highly skilled workforce, strong rule of law and international regulatory standards. The Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018 ranks the USA as the second-most-competitive market in the world.
  • There are no restrictions on capital flows in and out of the USA.


Sophistication of Banking Systems

  • There are nearly 4,900 commercial banks in the USA, the majority of which are small, local banks. The five largest banks hold 40% of all deposits.
  • The USA banking industry is closely linked to the UK, with the largest US banks holding nearly 70% of their on- and off-balance sheet assets in the UK (IMF).
  • The US is the second-largest foreign-exchange market in the world (Bank for International Settlements triennial global survey 2016).
  • The US has the largest bond market in the world, with USD 38.5 trillion of outstanding government and corporate bonds.


Regulatory Bodies

  • Banks in the USA are regulated at both a federal and state level. At a federal level they are regulated by the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Comptroller of the Currency as well as the National Credit Union Administration for certain financial institutions. State-level supervision is carried out by individual state bodies.
  • The Office of Foreign Assets Control enforces economic and trade sanctions, as well as overseeing financial transactions that pass through the Federal Reserve.



  • The corporate income tax for resident companies has been reduced from 35% to 21% for tax years beginning on or after 31 December 2017.
  • Resident companies are taxed on worldwide income. Foreign corporations are taxed on income derived from the USA. Companies are also taxed at a state and local level with rates generally ranging from 0% to 12%.
  • There is a 21% branch profits remittance tax on the remittance of profits to the head office by the branch of foreign company.
  • Mandatory deemed repatriation toll charges  require resident companies to pay a one-off tax of between 8% (other than cash items) and 15.5% (cash items) on overseas earnings made since 1986 that remain offshore. After making this one time payment, resident companies will not be taxed again when they repatriate the foreign dividend into the USA.
  • Sales and use tax varies from state to state and ranges from 2.9% to 7.25%. Local jurisdictions, such as cities and counties, may impose their own sales and use tax on top of the rate prescribed by the state.
  • Resident companies can deduct 50% of dividends received from other resident companies from their taxable income.
  • Capital gains are generally assessed with ordinary income and subject to corporate income tax. Capital losses can only be offset against capital gains.
  • Withholding tax is charged at 30% on interest and dividends. Rates range from 5% to 30% on dividends and 0% and 30% on interest where a tax treaty is in place and non resident can provide the Certificate of Residence.
  • A tax deduction is allowed at a federal, state and local level for interest expenses incurred by companies in carrying out business activities.
  • For tax year beginning before 1 January 2022, no tax deduction will be granted on net business interest expenses in excess of 30% of business’s adjusted taxable income computed without taking into account of interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. However, for tax years beginning after 1 January 2022, the business’s adjusted taxable income will take into account of depreciation and amortisation. Any unused business interest expenses can be carried forward indefinitely. Certain exception may apply.
  • On 22 December 2017, President Trump signed into law H.R.1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and amongst the key changes introduced under this new law are:
    • Reduction in corporate income tax for resident companies from 35% to 21%
    • Repeal of corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT)
    • New business interest expenses deduction rules from tax year after 31 December 2017 onwards (please refer to the preceding bullet point for details)
    • For taxpayers (other than property and casualty insurance companies which are subject to special rules), the new law eliminates carryback of tax losses and allows tax losses to be carried forward indefinitely but limits carried forward tax losses to 80% of the taxable income from tax year after 31 December 2017 onwards
    • Mandatory deemed one time repatriation toll charges of 15.5% for cash items and 8% for non cash items on overseas earning left outside the USA since 1986. Once these charges are paid, resident companies will not be taxed again on dividend repatriated into the USA.
    • A minimum tax on Global Intangible Low-taxed Income (GILTI)
    • A new tax called Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) was introduced to impose a minimum tax on certain deductible payments made to foreign affiliates including royalties and management fee payment but excludes cost of goods sold. This tax shall apply for tax years after 31 December 2017 onwards.  
  • The USA has tax treaties with nearly 60 countries and territories.


Benefits for Regional Treasury Centres

  • The USA has highly developed, liquid, and efficient financial markets.
  • It offers strong corporate governance.
  • The US time zones overlap with European trading hours.
  • Cash concentration services are available in the US on a domestic and cross-border basis.
  • Domestic notional pooling is restricted in the US and not widely available. Cross-border notional pooling is not available.


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Banking System

  • There are 1,799 commercial banks and 5,906 credit unions, the latter of which are mostly small and local and account for only 7% of total banking and credit union assets.
  • The large proliferation of small, local banks is mainly due to banking restrictions that limit bank holding companies from buying banks interstate.
  • The US’s highest-ranking 15 banks make up 53% of all bank deposits in the US.
  • The subprime crisis of 2007/08 had a major impact on the banking sector, leading to an estimated 500 banks failing. The Federal Reserve has since introduced financial regulation to strengthen banks and safeguard them from failure.


Bank Accounts

  • Residents: Foreign-exchange and domestic currency (USD) accounts are available both domestically and overseas. The foreign-exchange accounts are freely convertible.
  • Non-residents: Foreign-exchange and domestic currency accounts are available, however, foreign-exchange accounts are not commonly on offer, but when they are, they are freely convertible. 
  • Interest: Available on corporate demand deposit accounts (known as DDAs or corporate checking accounts). Interest is also paid on idle funds, known as earnings credit, and this offsets and thus reduces bank service charges. The earnings credit rate is calculated daily and there is a fixed banking fee, therefore, large deposits and balances tend to have lower overall banking fees.
  • Banks may charge deposit insurance on customers’ accounts, which is related to the bank’s risk as assessed and charged by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). However, it is not a mandatory charge to the customer and it is not a requirement of the FDIC.
  • Banks are required to provide account analysis statements on a monthly basis, which include a summary of treasury management services and cheque account activities.


Legal and Regulatory

  • The Federal Reserve System (the Fed) is the US central bank. It is split up into 12 District Federal Reserve Banks, each with responsibility for overseeing banking activity in their district. Each financial institution has an individual nine-digit ABA routing number that is used as an identifier for all financial transactions. ABA numbers may vary within the same bank according to the payment method being used or where the account was opened.   
  • As a federation of states, the US financial sector is supervised at federal and state level. At federal level, bank supervision is carried out by the Fed, the FDIC and the US Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). State-level supervision is done by individual state bodies.
  • A resident company is one that was created or abides by the laws of any US state or the District of Columbia.
  • The US has anti-money-laundering and counterterrorism-financing legislation in place. It is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has set up a financial intelligence unit called the Commissioner of Internal Revenue Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which is a member of the Egmont Group.
  • Financial transactions in excess of USD 10,000 per day have to be reported to FinCEN.




Payment Systems


Funds Transfer System

USA's Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system

  • Owned and operated by the Federal Reserve.
  • Connects the 12 Federal Reserve banks and depository institutions.
  • Processes high value and urgent domestic USD-denominated credit transfers (no value threshold).
  • Fedwire transactions fall into two categories: interbank and third-party transfers.
  • To participate, financial institutions must have an account with the Fed.
  • There are 7,866 participants.



(Clearing House Interbank Payment System)


Electronic clearing house database system

  • Operated by the New York Clearing House (privately owned). Unlike the Fedwire system (which is part of a regulatory body), CHIPS is owned by the financial institutions that use it.
  • CHIPS transfers are governed by Article 4A of the Uniform Commercial Code.
  • Payments cleared and settled in real time.
  • There are 49 participants.
  • Open to all US commercial banks, and foreign and private banks with branches in New York City, provided they satisfy specific state and federal requirements.
  • Mainly used for international USD-denominated credit transfers, but can be used to clear high-value interbank transfers (international and domestic)(no value threshold).
  • All CHIPS participants have a six-digit identifier code, the CHIPS UID (universal identifier), which contains all the information necessary to process transactions.
  • By 2015 it was settling well over USD1.5 trillion a day in around 250,000 interbank payments in cross-border and domestic transactions.
  • Together with the Fedwire Funds Service, CHIPS forms the primary US network for high-value domestic and international USD payments, of which it has a market share of around 96%.
  • For less time-sensitive payments, banks typically prefer to use CHIPS rather than Fedwire, as CHIPS is less expensive (both by charges and by funds required). This is partly due to the fact that Fedwire is a RTGS, while CHIPS allows payments to be netted.



(Automated Clearinghouse)

Electronic funds transfer system

  • ACH operators in the US are the Federal Reserve System (FedACH) and the Electronic Payments Network (EPN).
  • Processes low value and non-urgent credit and debit transfers (no value threshold).
  • Credits used for consumer, commercial and government payments and debits for consumer bill payments.
  • Approx. 20,000 participants
  • Available to commercial banks, savings and loan banks and credit unions.


(National Settlement Service)

Multilateral settlement system

  • Operated by the Federal Reserve.
  • Processes private sector clearing arrangements through master accounts held at the Federal Reserve.
  • Settles and exchanges transactions multilaterally.
  • System reduces settlement risk by processing settlement same day.
  • There are approximately 17 NSS arrangements.



Payment Instruments


Credit Transfers

  • ACH credits are used for regular payments, such as payroll, supplier and government bills, as well as one-off or irregular payments. These can be low- or high-value payments that are not urgent.
  • Fedwire is used for high value and time-critical electronic transactions, referred to as wire payments, mainly for domestic USD-denominated payments, while CHIPS is used for cross-border USD-denominated payments, both same day. This form of payment is commonly used for interbank transfers and large payments between commercial and financial institutions.


Direct Debits (auto debits)

  • Commonly used for low-value, regular payments such as utility bills.
  • Significant increase in the use of direct debit payments from the proliferation of cashless payments and online facilities.
  • Uses ACH debits to process with settlement next day.
  • FedACH SameDay Service allows the settlement of ACH debits on the same day.


Card Payments

  • The main credit cards in circulation are Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and Diners Club.
  • Debit cards are either PIN-based (online) or signature-based (offline), although the latter is no longer adopted by the four main credit card providers. Most payments using debit cards are settled via Visa and MasterCard.
  • Payment cards are in the process of migrating from magnetic strip to the more secure chip card technology.
  • Limited-use proprietary cards are commonly used, and these are usually issued by retail or oil companies.
  • There are between 475,000 and 500,000 ATM terminals and 12.7 million POS terminals. There are a few national network ATM providers, including NYCE, Pulse and Star.


Online Payments

  • The US accounts for 57% of the global fintech market.
  • Mobile banking has been steadily increasing in popularity over the past decade, with more than half of bank account holders accessing mobile banking through apps as well as institutional websites thus far in 2018. However, mobile banking growth is on the decline.
  • Reloadable mobile apps that hold credit and are used to make payments are growing in usage, especially with younger consumers and in the area of person-to-person payments. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay are the most prominent mobile wallets in the US while retailers such as Starbucks and Target have developed systems exclusive to their stores.
  • Mobile shopping (m-commerce) is still in its early stages in the US, held back by technological problems such as the current limitations of Wi-Fi or 3G/4G reception. However, it is forecast to make up 45% of the e-commerce market by 2020. In 2017, 19% of all online retail sales were paid using mobile devices, and the share has increased to 27% in 2018 (Invesp).
  • Online payments are the main mode of payment online, with 84% of all online payments - whether retail purchases or monthly bills - made on a computer. This includes payments using credit and debit cards and third-party payment providers such as PayPal and Alipay.
  • Prepaid debit cards i.e. reloadable payment and/or gift cards are often linked to major financial institutions and are increasing in popularity. The most common in the US are American Express Serve®, Paypal™ Prepaid MasterCard® and KAIKU Visa Prepaid Card.


Digital Currencies

  • Cryptocurrencies, primarily bitcoin, have experienced considerable growth in the US, registering the second largest global volume - approximately 26% - of bitcoin transactions (Cryptocompare). This is partly due to the country’s established and sophisticated financial sector. 
  • The Treasury Department does not classify cryptocurrencies as legal tender, while other government departments differ as to whether cryptocurrencies should be considered securities or commodities.
  • Exchanges are regulated at the state level and are legal in some states.


Cheques and Money Orders

  • Cheques are a common form of payment, but are increasingly being superseded by electronic payments for low- and high-value transactions.
  • Cheques are truncated before being processed and are settled either same day if they are ‘on us’ cheques (whereby the issue bank and deposit bank are the same) or up to five days if they are interbank.
  • Money orders are available through vendors such as the US Postal Service, Western Union and MoneyGram. Money can be received or sent domestically or internationally, either online or in person.


Cash Management

  • Notional pooling: This has limited availability in the US and cross-border notional pooling is prohibited.
  • Cash concentration: Resident and non-resident companies may carry out single and cross-currency cash concentration on a domestic and cross-border basis using one or multiple legal entities. Same-day funding usually defers to Fedwire and next-day funding, an ACH debit.
  • Collections:
    • Lockboxes: These are commonly used by companies for the countrywide collection of cash or cheque payments, in lieu of the popular use of cheques combined with a reliable, efficient post office service. The lockbox facility collects, processes and deposits payments for the company. Statements of all remittance information is passed onto the recipient company electronically, including electronic cheque images and returned items’ data, to be used in the receivables system. This service is offered by banks and non-bank institutions. Accounts Receivable Conversion (ARC) – This is a type of ACH transaction which involves converting a cheque collected in a lockbox into an ACH debit, given advanced notice to the recipient (although with an option to opt out). This practice is only used in the case of consumer bill payments. Back Office Conversion (BOC) – This is the conversion of cheques (maximum value of USD 25,000) into ACH debits by retailers and companies in their back offices from point of sale. Remote capture and deposit service – This involves the scanning of USD-denominated cheques and using the electronic images to use as substitute cheques to deposit funds into an US bank account. All major banks offer this facility and it is a method popular with retailers, brokerages and other types of companies.
    • Cross border: Cross-border payment instructions are usually delivered through SWIFT or CHIPS. There are several payment methods: International ACH Transaction (IAT) – The IAT Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) code and the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) rules require every ACH payment to enter or exit the US as an IAT and are therefore subject to US Office of Foreign Assets and Control (OFAC) screening. FedACH deals with ACH credits from the US to Canada, Mexico, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, Switzerland and the UK. FedGlobal ACH Payments deals with ACH credit to 35 countries across Europe and Latin America. ACH payments with Canada are dealt with via a payments system developed by NACHA.
  • Short-term investments:
    • Time deposits – These are available with maturities from seven days to one year in USD with a maximum value of USD 150,000 per bank.
    • Commercial paper – These are available with maturities from one day to 270 days and an average term of 30 days in USD and with a minimum value of USD 100,000.
    • Certificates of deposit – These are available with maturities from seven days to over a year (typically three- to six-month terms) in USD and with a minimum value of USD 100,000.
    • Treasury bills and notes – These are issued by the US Treasury Bureau of Public Debt and must have a minimum value of USD 100.
    • Banker’s acceptances – These are a popular investment and have maturities from one day to six months.
    • Repurchase agreements – These are available overnight.
    • Money-market funds – These are available with a minimum value of USD 1,000.
  • Custody and securities settlement:
    • Depositories – There are two depositories in the US: the Depository Trust Company (DTC) and the Federal Reserve Bank. The DTC is the central securities depository subsidiary of the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), which is responsible for the settlement of all equity, corporate and municipal debt trades and money-market instruments. It also provides custody and asset servicing for securities from 131 countries and territories.
  • Central counterparties: The central counterparties in the US are:
    • National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC) – This is the central counterparty for equities, corporate and municipal debt, American depository receipts, exchange-traded funds and unit investment trusts.
    • Fixed Income Clearing Corporation (FICC) – This is also responsible for the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation Government Securities Division (US Treasury and agency securities) and the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation Mortgage-backed Securities Division (mortgage-backed securities).
    • LCH Clearnet LLC.
    • ICE Clear.
    • The Options Clearing Corporation.
    • Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc.
    • Minneapolis Grain Exchange Inc.
  • Settlement cycle:
    • T+2 for equities, corporate bonds and municipals. In 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission shortened the standard settlement cycle by one day, from T+3 to T+2.
    • T+0 or T+1 for money market instruments and government securities.


US Market Profile Infographic


1 (Variable) depending on type of good or service and individual state and local authority

2 State and local corporate taxes may also apply

3 (Progressive) max rate for incomes (single-filers) over USD418,401


Recent developments


US and China May Clash Over E-commerce rules

The US and China may clash over World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on e-commerce, bringing the current trade war between the two countries into a new area. The WTO is pushing for global standards for the USD27 trillion e-commerce market, but China has already indicated it could dispute some of the current proposals. The US has long been calling on the WTO to introduce rules to govern the e-commerce space and reign in what it considers to be unfair trade practices by China.

Read more about the development here


US Government 12th for E-payments

The US government has been ranked 12th out of 73 counties for its adoption of e-payments by research group EIU. The study, which rated governments according to their capabilities on e-payments between the government and citizens and businesses, as well as the general payment infrastructure and social and economic context, gave the US a score of 83.6, only slightly below first place Norway on 89.7.

Read more about the development here.


US Mulls Fintech Banking Licences

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are looking into granting fintech firms federal bank-like licences. The move would reduce regulatory costs for the firms and enable them to offer a broader range of financial services, such as money transfers and lending, and expand into new regions. But the US Federal Reserve is said to be wary of giving them access to wider financial infrastructure due to concerns over risk management and consumer protection at the firms.

Read more about the development here.



This Market Profile is brought to you by DBS. Get in touch with us for further insights on doing treasury in The USA and take advantage of our innovative solutions to empower your business. Click here to find out more.



Sources: IMF, The World Economic Forum The Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018, Economic Complexity Index, Bank for International Settlements, SIFMA, Federal Reserve, Bank of England, PwC, OECD, KPMG, Association for Finance Professionals


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Last updated on 14 Jun 2019