Survey reveals only 1 in 4 expats using mobile banking services abroad

by mfefadmin on October 29, 2012

New apps should help expats manage currency exchanges

A recent survey conducted by in conjunction with Barclays International showed that most expats “never use” mobile banking tools, despite holding several bank accounts in different countries.

The study polled 10,000 expats to find out how they manage their finances while working abroad. Of the respondents, 73% said they “never” accessed their bank accounts from a smartphone or tablet device, 17% reported that they “occasionally” used mobile banking platforms, and “10%” “frequently” checked bank accounts while on the go.

In 2010 there were around 200m expats worldwide – that’s a huge number of people (almost 150m) working internationally who don’t make use of mobile technology for banking. With the current eurozone economic difficulties and the unfavourable sterling-euro exchange rates, it seems surprising that expats are not keeping a more watchful eye on their finances.

Expats often hold multiple bank accounts in different countries. This sort of financial juggling between accounts can make banking administration very tricky – a simple bank transfer between international accounts can end up costing the account holder a fortune in exchange rates if the transaction is badly timed. The economic crisis in the euro area countries has made it even more difficult to manage finances between countries.

Expats in particular have been badly hit by the financial crisis. Those drawing a UK pension have faced problems due to the poor exchange rate – pensions held in Sterling now lose a great deal of value when they are converted to euros. Homeowners, buyers and sellers have also been affected – mortgage repayments on foreign currency mortgages are finding it difficult to meet repayments, and savings held in Sterling don’t add up to much of a deposit once converted. Even expats wanting to sell up and return home are finding that the exchange rate devalues the money raised from property sales.

How Often Do You Use Your SmartPhone For Mobile Banking?

Expats can reduce currency exchange losses, but they need to pay more attention to the timing of foreign exchange transactions. A transfer made at the right time can leave the account holder in a much better position, but few expats keep an eye on currency fluctuations. A huge amount of money can be saved, simply by planning exchanges to take advantage of more favourable rates. One way to do this is by keeping an eye on the exchange rate, but expats need to embrace mobile platforms to stay ahead of the game.

Several new apps designed to help expats manage currency exchanges have recently been launched. iAlerts — a mobile application that sends users alerts about the latest rates – is a good one to look out for. This app nudges users when a currency rate changes, helping them to plan the best time to carry out a large conversion. It’s a good tool for expats planning a large currency conversion, but, more importantly, it also helps users to predict how the rates will change.

One thing is for sure: expats need to start using more mobile tools for money matters. With the euro area economy still struggling, expats simply can’t afford to turn a blind eye to mobile money management.


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