Clearly not for 85% of expats in India
When moving to a new country it is probably likely that your banking arrangements will change dramatically but that you will also need to revert to your former homeland banking accounts. As a consequence we thought it would be interesting to see how expats abroad do their banking and what trends are coming out of the new financial arena.
There is no doubt that we have seen dramatic changes in the banking arena over the last few years and indeed the Internet, mobile communications and a whole host of others opportunities are now available.
Willing to throw light upon this matter, Expat Forum has conducted a research in conjunction with Barclays International Banking to find out how expats in India do their banking. Let’s uncover the most striking answers…
There is no doubt that the online arena has made a massive impact on the worldwide banking community and literally you are only a click away from any banking institution around the world. The figure of 84.62% is significantly higher than the overall average of 70.39% which would seem to indicate a willingness for expats in India to accommodate the latest technology and the latest banking services.
However, we must also look at the security aspects compared to the mobility aspects of online banking and any issues which may arise in the future. Identity theft has been a major issue for the banking community for some time now and while many financial institutions have taken the cost of covering such criminal activity on board it may well lead to further charges for individual customers in the future. This has placed security at the heart of the online financial movement and while there are an array of programs and protection devices available it is literally down to the individual to ensure that their services are secure and that their passwords are never revealed.
When you compare the banking community today against the banking community of 50 years ago the speed at which funds can be transferred around the world is absolutely phenomenal. Quite literally you can log on and transfer funds within moments to anybody around the world, check your investments, make withdrawals and other services in the blink of an eye. It has revolutionised the expat community because now there is no real need to transfer all of your banking services overseas to your new homeland. The Internet has revolutionised personal banking and in many cases some of the better interest rates are now available for those willing to go online rather than visit their local branch.
Unfortunately the online explosion has caught the eye of many in the criminal fraternity and bogus e-mails, scams and fraud are more commonplace than ever before. It is therefore vital that you use a secure service and a reputable company when doing your online banking and ensure that all of your passwords, usernames and other personal details are kept well hidden.
It is unclear whether some people consider mobile banking as using their Internet services online on their mobile or indeed telephone banking which is still very popular today. We will therefore assume that mobile banking takes in both elements of the banking industry and again the 9.89% figure is slightly higher than the 8.90% figure for the overall poll.
Telephone banking tends to give many people peace of mind and security knowing that they are actually talking to a fellow human being and they can communicate any issues and any problems they may have. It is also one of the safest ways to conduct your banking on the move and overseas so long as you follow various simple security measures. Thankfully many banks have clicked onto the potential for fraud in this particular arena and in order to take advantage of telephone banking you will need to register with your personal details to ensure you are who you say you are. There is nothing easier than picking up the phone when you need funds transferred or other operations in relation to your finances because quite literally the funds can be transferred in an instant. Many telephone banking services are available 24/7 therefore wherever you are, whatever time of day it is and whatever you are after there should be somebody there to help you.
The arena of mobile Internet banking is one which has grown significantly over the last couple of years and indeed there is talk of a major push by the financial arena and mobile phone companies. We are looking at specifically Internet access via the everyday smart phones available today as well as mobile phone wallets which effectively allow you to hold funds “on your mobile phone”. These two elements of worldwide banking still attract a degree of scepticism from some areas of the expat community because of perceived security issues. However, the truth is that any banking service, whether vocal or over the Internet, does carry a certain degree of risk and all we can do is take measures to reduce this risk and reduce the chances of fraud or criminal activity.
The mobile phone is listed by many people as their most important day-to-day item and it therefore makes sense to integrate this particular service into the worldwide banking arena. It is very easy to program your phones to automatically upload your account details, show the latest movements on your account and even withdraw and deposit money from various sources. Again, the vast majority of these operations will happen immediately and the days of waiting up to 48 hours or to have your funds transferred have pretty much gone by the wayside.
The mobile phone industry is expected to be a vital element of the ongoing transformation of the worldwide financial industry. The ability to not only carry out complicated Internet transactions on the move but also to engaging telephone banking wherever you may be has certainly caught the eye of many expats. Security has been an issue for some people, but in reality the mobile phone companies are doing all that they can to assist.
Local branch (3.30%)
When you take into account the fact that for the overall poll we saw 12.22% voting in favour of using their local branch for their banking services the figure for India is significantly lower at 3.30%. This would seem to indicate a willingness to take up the offer of the latest technology, both online and mobile, against visiting your local bank. Some people may argue that access to some of the world’s largest banking institutions may be limited in India but the truth is that the main contenders in the UK banking industry, and indeed the worldwide banking industry, have their tentacles in every area of the globe – whether through direct exposure or through joint ventures.
There are many who have called the end for the local branch network time and time again but in reality there will be people who prefer to deal face-to-face with people who can help. Whether or not we see banking institutions around the world introduce additional costs for this particular service in due course remains to be seen but the days of a bank on every corner of the high street have for many villages, towns and cities around the world gone by the wayside. Many companies such as Barclays Bank have spread their wings over recent years and their customers have readily available access to local branches around the globe. This has been replicated by a number of companies and is well received by those in the expat community who prefer to deal face-to-face as opposed to from a distance.
The relatively low figure in relation to local branch banking could also indicate a widespread and a reliable Internet/broadband network across the country. Internet security and Internet reliability have been a problem in some of the more far-flung areas of the world although slowly but surely progress is being made and gaps in the network are being closed up. Even the merest of glimpses at the Indian Internet and mobile phone market will show that the country is up there with the leaders around the world and has attracted all of the biggest names in the telecoms industry. This in turn attracts more and more overseas investment, more and more overseas businesses and more and more expats.
There is no doubt that the Indian government’s investment in technology, telecoms and other communication methods is certainly starting to pay dividends and in many cases it is changing forever the banking arena and the way in which expats do their financial transactions.
Carrying out your banking by post is for many people a thing of the past and there are a growing number of people who would never even consider postal banking. Whether you are posting to your local branch in your new-found homeland or posting overseas to your former homeland there are obvious delays which would impact upon any immediate transactions, transfers or withdrawals you needed to undertake. Applications for mortgages, loans, credit cards, etc may well require some form of postal service but in reality there are a few people who would argue in favour of a postal banking service in this day and age.
There are some who may include e-mails in this “postal banking service” answer but in reality there are few banks which will accept e-mail instructions on their own without further clarification of the sender. There are also very few people around the world who will not have received the now commonplace scams and frauds from every area of the world asking for your banking details, suggesting that your account has been frozen, etc. Therefore, it will not come as a surprise to learn that the vast majority of banks around the world will not partake in instruction which have originated via e-mail.
It is also worth noting that some of the more far-flung areas of the world may have a limited postal service which could even extend the delays you might experience transferring funds, withdrawing funds, etc. Therefore it is a little surprising to see any mention of postal banking but then again there are some people who are used to particular way of doing things, a particular service and a particular method.
There are other methods of doing your banking and while there were a number of options suggested from expats living in India many of these were tongue in cheek and not worth mentioning. It seems that the vast majority of people are more than happy to do their banking online at this moment in time with India in particular seemingly having grasped the online banking nettle.
The collapse of the worldwide banking community some years ago, leading to a worldwide recession, perfectly illustrated the explosion in banking around the globe. Indeed for a very short period the Royal Bank of Scotland was actually the largest bank in the world until its collapse due to mounting debts and write-offs.
Many years ago expats moving overseas would have needed to transfer their banking facilities lock stock and barrel to their new-found homeland. However the situation is very different today and it is possible to maintain a bank account in your former homeland, although there may well be currency risks, and carry out your banking instructions online. This would appear to be the preferred method of the vast majority of expats living in their new-found homeland which perfectly illustrates the growing trust factor between customers, banks and Internet service providers.
We are also seeing further developments in the worldwide banking arena which include mobile phone wallet services, prepaid cards, swipe cards for a variety of small payments and low-cost currency transfers. The expat community has increased significantly around the globe and many of the larger banking institutions have specific departments who look after the expat community in various countries.
There is no doubt that India is one of the more technologically advanced countries around the world which is perfectly illustrated by the growing number of Internet service providers, mobile phone companies and banking institutions. It is also very popular with the expat community and it is no surprise to see that online banking is by far and away the most popular way of carrying out your day-to-day financial transactions followed by mobile banking, local branches and postal banking.
It is also worth noting that the government of India has invested significant amounts of money into the country’s broadband network and indeed this has helped grow the online banking community. Scams, frauds and criminal activity will always follow large scale fund transfers but the truth is that if you ignore any rogue e-mails that you receive, keep your anti-virus software up to date and do not reveal your username, password and other personal details, then there is no reason why you would be scammed.
One issue which may well come to the fore in the months and years ahead is identity theft fraud which is now more prevalent than ever before. Social media sites, personal blogs and other such online services are used by many in the criminal fraternity to fish for the personal details of their potential victims. When you consider services such as Facebook and the amount of people who constantly comment upon where they are, what they are doing and their plans for the future, there is an awful lot of information readily available to hand. This can be used, together with other scams and frauds, to withdraw funds from bank accounts, redirect post, apply for credit cards and other financial instruments all in the name of the victim.
So while online banking is certainly here to stay and certainly something which is growing in popularity there is a need for each and every individual to play their part in security. So far the banking community has been fairly helpful with regards to identity theft fraud, criminal withdrawals and scams but such is the growth in this fraudulent activity that the banks cannot cover the overall cost forever and a day. Therefore it is likely that for those undertaking online banking, mobile banking and using other similar technologies will at some point be held responsible for any mishaps or slipups in security.
On the positive side, there is no doubt that the growth in Internet banking has assisted the expat community and simplified a little what is a relatively traumatic move overseas. The ability to literally carry out financial transactions at the push of a button anywhere around the globe has been well received and is even growing in popularity. There will always be a place for local branches, postal banking and other so-called “outdated” options because in reality we are all very different and we are all very used to different things.
We fully expect yet more technological advances in the worldwide banking industry to be revealed in the years ahead and there is no doubt that the mobile phone will become more and more dominant in this arena. Quite where the industry will turn next remains to be seen but the Internet has changed one of the oldest industries in the world into something which is unrecognisable from decades ago.