80% Expats in Australia love doing their banking online
The Australian economy has been one of the strongest in the developed world for the last three or four years and indeed many expect it to go from strength to strength. This in itself has been a significant attraction for many expats but Australia really has so much more to offer. Even before the recent burst of economic activity the country was already attracting more than its fair share of expats with the government very keen to bring in as many skilled workers as possible. So we were very hopeful of some interesting answers in relation to our online poll asking the question “how do expats in Australia do their banking” and we were not disappointed.
Online banking (80.77%)
The figure of 80.77% in relation to online banking is significantly higher than the average 70.39% for the overall poll. This would appear to suggest that the vast majority of expats in Australia are more than happy with the Internet service in the country and the security issues which many people shy away from. It is also worthwhile noting that the Australian government is currently in the process of putting out to tender a multibillion-dollar broadband network contract which will see ultrafast broadband available across-the-board.
This is certain to increase the availability of online banking, hopefully improve security and it will certainly improve speed. Australia is one of the more forward-looking countries with regards to new technology and when you also throw in a very competitive financial arena it is no surprise to see this particular answer was well ahead of any others. If you also take a look at the country itself it is no secret that many areas of Australia are literally cut off from the regular hustle and bustle of the larger towns and cities with online banking and broadband connectivity vital areas of life for those experiencing this particular lifestyle. So while for many countries broadband connectivity and online banking are very interesting options to have, for many people in some of the more rural areas of Australia they are a necessity.
The vast majority of worldwide banks have some form of exposure in Australia because this was seen by many as a halfway house between Europe and Asia. The country has also attracted more than its fair share of expats in areas such as the mining industry which continues to go from strength to strength. Even though the Australian government has in some quarters been accused of milking the mining industry in particular for as much taxation as possible the truth is that if multibillion dollar projects such as the countrywide broadband network are the result of additional taxation then can we really complain?
As broadband connectivity becomes more reliable and more available across Australia we can only expect an increase in those looking to use online banking as their service of choice.
Mobile banking (7.69%)
The figure for mobile banking came in at just below the average for the overall poll which was 8.90% and would seem to tie in with an exceptional uptake of online banking. However, what does mobile banking mean to you? If we assume that mobile banking is both mobile telecom banking and mobile broadband banking then perhaps we have a useful backup service for the more popular online banking arena?
Again there are issues with regards to the availability of not only mobile broadband and also mobile phone signals across some areas of Australia but cost is also prevalent in the minds of many. The array of new smart-phones, tablets and other mobile devices has certainly increased the uptake of mobile broadband and there are an array of hotspots within some of Australia’s largest towns and cities. This makes logging onto mobile broadband networks much simpler and while there are security issues with regards to those using “third party” broadband networks these can be overcome using the latest security software and antivirus systems. The usage of mobile broadband is certain to increase in the short, medium and longer term because this is an area which governments around the world are very keen to invest in. The ability to literally logon to any website and any online service at any location of your choice will be something we will take for granted in the future.
Telephone banking is seen by many people as the poor cousin of online banking but in reality it allows those who prefer a person-to-person conversation to take advantage of both the convenience and the ability to carry out financial transactions anytime of the day. While this will obviously depend upon the mobile signals available across Australia it is only the more remote and rural areas which will suffer from bad connectivity and bad service. Again, it is hoped that this particular area of mobile communication will improve as and when the government begins the broadband project which will literally change the way many Australians live.
Local branch banking (7.69%)
It is no surprise to see the number of people using local branch banking significantly below the average of 12.22% for the poll as a whole. The popularity of online banking, mobile telecom banking and mobile broadband banking certainly supersedes the need for many people to visit their local branch to carry out financial transactions and take advice. However, it is worth noting that the vast majority of worldwide banking institutions do have either a direct or indirect exposure to Australia which was earmarked as one of the potential growth areas of the world some years ago.
Very often it is comforting for expats in foreign lands to see banking institutions and bank branches which they are used to in their former homeland. There are very few of the major UK, European and American banks which have no exposure in Australia so for those looking at local branch banking there are many options in the larger towns and cities of Australia. Again, the situation may be very different in some of the more rural and desolate areas of Australia but this is and has been part of the Australian way of life.
There is a worldwide trend with regards to local branch banking because many banking situations feel that their future lies fairly and squarely online and therefore more and more local bank branches are likely to be closed down or consolidated in the future. The reality of life after the Internet is very different to that before the Internet came into our homes and the potentially massive savings on base costs and business costs have not gone unnoticed by the financial community. There will always be a number of local bank branches but these numbers are likely to continue to fall not only in Australia but also around the world.
Postal banking (3.85%)
The figure of 3.85% is slightly below the average for the overall poll which was 4.55% and further illustrates the fact that postal banking is for many people a thing of the past. There will always be a hard-core of people who prefer to use postal banking, whether for withdrawals, deposits, credit card applications or other postal services. The introduction of the Internet and in particular e-mail, whereby you can literally transmit any documentation over the World Wide Web, will put more and more pressure on postal banking services. In the UK were have also seen a significant increase in the cost of posting documents and this is likely to be replicated across the world as e-mail and the Internet grab more and more traffic from the domestic postal companies.
For some transactions that are non-time critical there may well be a place for postal banking in the future but as technology moves on it is very difficult to see anything but more pressure on this area of traditional banking. If you are carrying out postal banking services from your new homeland to your former homeland then the international delays will far outweigh any domestic delays and need to be considered very carefully. Is there really any reason why postal services are still required by a large number of people?
Other banking services (0%)
It was interesting to see that there were no other suggestions from expats living in Australia with regards to their banking quite simply because the online arena has taken over. The Internet has literally changed the lives of millions of millions of people around the world and those in the expat community are now able to literally logon with their laptop anywhere around the world and carry out their financial transactions.
Behind the scenes
We will now take a look at elements of the worldwide banking industry which are very much at the forefront of the minds of expats and the domestic population. These include: –
For many people security is the one and only issue which potentially stops them from logging online to do their financial management. It is no secret that there have been a number of highly publicised data capture problems not only in the banking industry but also in the worldwide business arena. In many ways each of these particular incidents is a further hurdle for the banking arena to jump in the future in order to get back the confidence of their customers. The reality is that there is no one banking service which is 100% secure and if we all play our part with regards to keeping our passwords and usernames secret, updating anti-virus software and avoiding the very often obvious scams then this will reduce the potential for criminal activity.
It is also worth noting that many banks around the world have significantly beefed up their online operations to ensure they are as secure as possible using the latest software and services. This is a very costly exercise for many banks around the world and is perhaps one of the reasons why Internet banking and other forms of online banking have been heavily promoted across the globe.
While security will always be one of the major issues with regards to online banking services there is no doubt that convenience, whether this be Internet banking, telephone banking or even local branch banking, is very much in the minds of many. For many people the main attraction of Internet banking is the fact that you can logon any time of day, anywhere with a broadband signal and carry out your financial management at the most unsocial hours of the day.
The same can be said in many ways with regards to mobile telephone banking and mobile broadband banking although it would be dependent upon the mobile services available in your specific area and how reliable they were. In theory, there is no reason why mobile telephone banking and mobile broadband banking should not be available across the board because there have been major improvements in global technology.
In days gone by there was no doubt that the convenience of visiting your local bank branch for advice and assistance was something which many people held close to their hearts. However, the days when customers had a direct relationship with their bank manager have long gone and there have been complaints that customers are now nothing but a number. While this is debatable, there has been a sea change in the way in which advice and assistance is given to the local community with more and more local bank branches now closing down. For some people a visit to their local bank is something they will never have experienced while for others it is the most obvious and the most convenient option.
It is no surprise to learn that Australia has attracted more than its fair share of skilled workers over the last 20 or 30 years and indeed is looking to attract more in the future. Therefore, the growing number of skilled workers and technologically experienced workers, together with the ongoing broadband project, is likely to lead to a further increase in online banking customers. The Australian government has been one of the most forward thinking with regards to new technology and as we have seen over the last few months it has been confident enough to invest billions of dollars.
In years gone by the location of Australia was detrimental to trade and visitors but this has changed significantly over the years. The economy is growing, the financial arena is stronger than ever and the economic bricks for the future have certainly been laid with solid foundations. As a consequence we can only expect more and more expats to visit Australia many of whom will be very familiar with the online arena.
Australia is one of few countries around the world which has been very proactive with regards to broadband networks and the online arena. The $30 billion plus broadband network project currently underway is a massive investment in the future of Australia and the future of the online arena. When you also take into account the fact that Australia has a very strong financial sector if you marry the two together then we have online banking, mobile broadband banking and even mobile telephone banking.
The figure of 80.77% with regards to those using online banking services is far above the 70.39% for the overall poll. When you also take into account the lower figure in relation to local bank branch visits, 7.69% as opposed to 12.22%, there is certainly a trend emerging. The international financial sector has grown dramatically over the last few years and the introduction of the Internet has brought together the various elements of this very influential business arena.
It has to be said that the Australian authorities have perhaps a far greater challenge than their UK and European counterparts due in the main to the landscape of Australia. There are plans to introduce broadband to some of the more desolate and rural areas of Australia and these are certainly very ambitious projects. However, if the past is anything to go by then the Australian authorities are very focused and very technology savvy and there is no reason to doubt they will succeed.
The more elements of modern day life that the Australian government adopt the more this will attract expats to the country and become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you also take into account the fact that the vast majority of the largest financial institutions in the world have a strong representation in Australia the ability to carry out your everyday financial management has never been easier. A large number of the multinational banks have specific departments which look after the expat community and we are seeing more and more financial packages and financial services aimed at this particular area of the population. It has not taken banks too long to cotton on to the fact that the expat community continues to grow and the introduction of the Internet is not only beneficial for their own services but also for worldwide travel. Australia has been and continues to be one of the more popular expat destinations and there is no reason to believe this will not continue into the future. There are many European and American governments envious of the economic and technological positions currently enjoyed by the Australian authorities.