Expats boost the use of new tech banking

by Ray Clancy on November 3, 2014

Expats are leading the way in terms of using online banking — little wonder, as it makes money trasfers so much easier than traditional banking.

Face-to-face banking just doesn’t work when you are living abroad, especially if you have banks accounts in more than one currency and want to move money around regularly.


British expats in particular are increasingly using online services for their financial needs

Indeed, the recent NatWest International expat survey found that British expats in particular are increasingly using online services for their financial needs.

According to Michael Lodhi, chief executive of financial planning company Spectrum IFA, in the last seven years there has been an increase in clients using online banking methods, with many now insisting on using e-banking to move their money.

The firm has also seen a surge of interest in clients using services like Currencies Direct, which offer competitive rates for currency transfers. The savings that come from using online services can be considerable. In one case, the firm transferred £600,000 into euros and when compared with the rates the banks could offer, there was a saving of about €1,800.

The NatWest International survey found that 89% of expats trust the security of online services and that there has been a decline in the number of expats seeing human contact as an important feature for fulfilling their banking needs.

‘People use online banking for efficiency because they don’t have to walk to the bank or post a letter. Our clients are in countries like France, Spain and Italy, so for some expats, there can be language issues when visiting the bank. Online banking is all about efficiency and convenience,’ said Lodhi.

London & Capital has also experienced an increase in online transactions. ‘The tendency to use technology is getting stronger and stronger, and the younger they are the more they want access,’ said Mark Estcourt, head of international wealth and immigration at London & Capital.

But some expats are being told that their custom is no longer welcome. For example, Lloyds customers living abroad who have an eSavings account are being told that they will not be able to switch to a different savings account with the bank because of a clause that requires them to have a British address.

Indeed, under rules introduced last year, anyone who is no longer a British resident will be unable to open a Lloyds savings account, although savers who already hold a Lloyds savings account will continue to be allowed to pay in.

Lloyds said it had taken a strategic decision to focus its attention and resources mainly in the UK and to reduce the number of countries in which it operated. ‘Among the considerations for that strategic decision are the varied legal and regulatory requirements that apply in each overseas jurisdiction. Lloyds Bank continues to provide banking options to its customers living overseas through its international private banking business,’ a spokesman for the bank added.

Lloyds is not the only bank to penalise customers living overseas. Barclaycard, Britain’s biggest credit card company, have told expat customers who hadn’t used their cards for at least six months that they would have them withdrawn if they didn’t provide a UK address.

A spokesman for the British Bankers’ Association said there are good reasons why banks could not always provide services to someone living in another country. ‘Costs can be higher and it often becomes much harder to meet the checks that banks are obliged to meet. There may also be an increased fraud risk of sending documents, financial information and other correspondence to another country,’ the spokesman explained.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Allan November 5, 2014 at 3:58 pm

As a previous short term expat, I never went into a bank. There is a host of technology out there which you can control from one device. Especially, I found that language was my biggest barrier and deterrent to communicate effectively. Also, with one attempt of going to a bank previously, communication was so bad I had to just leave. The surplus in technology for banks is reflected in the recent news where Lloyds bank cut jobs and branches due to the amount of money they can save through the use of online services. So why not?


Tom September 10, 2016 at 8:07 pm

I use a software called Geltbox Money to privately aggregate all my online accounts from two countries and different currencies.


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