In the five years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers led to the global economic crisis the number of expat bank accounts have shrunk, most notably in the UK.

For example the Co-operative is one of the latest in a long line of banks to leave the offshore market. Others in 2013 have included the Bank of Ireland (IOM) and Clydesdale International.


Experts point out that there are now just a handful of providers in the market and further exits cannot be ruled out. But in other locations more products are being launched for expats with the most recent being Swissquote Bank in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

It has launched its first retail product in the region, the expat account, which is aimed at members of the 500,000 Western expats community living in the UAE who are interested in saving, trading and other investment products.

The bank says that the new product offers easy and efficient access to a Swiss bank account with a multi asset trading system and combines flexible trading, saving and electronic private banking accounts with multiple currencies including the US dollar, the Euro, the Swiss Franc and Sterling into one single account.

The new account also gives its holders access to the full breadth of Swissquote Bank's financial products at very attractive prices, in addition to attractive rates on cash positions and credit cards that enable customers to access their funds wherever they are.

‘We are excited about the official introduction of the new expat account and convinced of its business potential in the region targeting in the initial phase alone more than half a million Western expats in UAE,’ said Mario Camara, chief executive officer of Swissquote Bank MEA.

‘With no minimum account balance or maintenance fees, our clients can maintain their savings with superior saving interests, easy to use international transfers in addition to an international credit card linked to the account. This is quite unique in the UAE and we aim to use it as a platform to introduce our Swiss standard banking services to the expats in the region,’ he added.

He also pointed out that with Dubai's win to host Expo 2020 and with the UAE government working towards achieving sustainable development, the country is expected to gain more ground in attracting new investors and more expats.

‘Being an online bank means Swissquote can create a virtual branch directly in your PC, tablet or smart phone offering you banking services at very affordable rates wherever in the world you happen to be at the moment and wherever you may move in future,’ explained Camara.

Swissquote's market research shows that the UAE is embracing online banking even faster than some mature financial markets. The Internet World Stats website, which monitors internet usage around the globe, show that a higher proportion of UAE bank account holders use online financial services at above 75% compared with their counterparts in the UK at under 60%.

‘Better IT infrastructure may be one of the factors behind such difference, but we believe that a bigger factor is the level of sophistication of UAE banking customers,’ said Camara.

Swissquote bank holds a category 4 license from the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and Swissquote Bank SA Central Bank Representative Office License and operates two offices in Dubai.

The bank has recently acquired a major forex broker MIG bank, establishing itself as one of the leading forex and CFD brokers for clients in over 120 countries and greatly enabling it to expand its forex operations, which at a volume of CHF158 billion accounted for 26.2% of total net revenues in the first half of 2013.

From its prime new location within Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC,) the bank said it aims to provide the comfort of a reliable and secure Swiss bank account by offering dedicated online banking and trading accounts, multi asset trading platforms and electronic Private banking solutions, all serviced locally through an experienced team.