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Expat Investor : March 2008
Test driving the workhorse of all expat finance products The offshore bank account is the most essential of money tools for any expat. Here we take a look at online banking developments and key bank accounts currently leading the market. tighten their belts and to see when they have a little extra they can tuck away in savings. Abbey International says its own online banking system is both "intuitive and powerful, which makes it ideal for those who are new to internet banking." Marketing Manager Jane Mathews confirms that any potential new client can try its demonstration model on the Bank's website to get OFFSHORE BANKING expatinvestor.com 6 EXPAT INVESTOR March 2008 developments." Richard Fray, Channel Manager, explains further, "With customers in more than 200 countries, HSBC Bank International recognises this need more than most. "The bank now provides its customers with individualised services that cater for their specialised needs. Its state-of-the- art website allows customers to do everything they'd expect to be able to do face-to-face, such as reviewing account details and statements online, transferring funds between accounts to any bank worldwide, reading secure, personalised messages sent by the bank, paying multiple bills and setting up standing orders." Back in 2006, HSBC Bank International was the first bank to launch an online service enabling customers to view their accounts and perform transactions while remaining in the bank's main website, www.offshore.hsbc.com. "This new tool, at the forefront of retail banking, means that customers' needs are taken care of within an individually-tailored site, with pre-filled forms, personalised offers and product information being displayed alongside transactional information," adds Mr Fray. Along with functional innovation, security is the main consideration for all customers and it is essential for banks to stay one step ahead of potential fraudsters. With this in mind, HSBC Bank International confirms it is looking at ways to reinforce its security system using 'multi-factor authentication', whereby customers are required to provide additional ways of establishing their identity, such as confirming a random number or personal details by telephone. The threat of internet fraud is an issue which NatWest International takes every bit as seriously. Julian Gouge, Head of International Personal Banking, points out that recent research amongst this Bank's own customer base (of which 40% are based abroad) revealed that 80% of people felt the need for a secure online banking system. In response, NatWest International recently launched what it calls "a unique overseas banking product Banking practicalities are the priority for any expatriate, and online banking leads the field. Abbey's research reveals that 17% of all Brits are now delaying their bedtime in order to bank online. The Bank tells Expat Investor, "Millions of Brits are quite literally losing sleep over their finances by banking online late into the night. Far from being a chore, or even a bore, more than half of online bankers (53%) are logging on at least every other day to keep an eye on their wealth, with many choosing to log on well into the wee small hours." Abbey's study found that online bankers believe that watching their money online gives them a better understanding of their finances (74%), while 38% claim that they have started to save more money since going online, as they are better able to determine when to a feel of the system before signing up. "The e-banking package delivers all of the functionality and more that most users will ever need -- customers can check their balances, make payments, review direct debits, order cheque books and manage their password data," explains Ms Matthews. "A clear and logical account display sets the Abbey International system apart from many others. Information is displayed initially in summary form to show high level key data by account type, such as interest rate, details of any maturity or notice period, and of course cleared balances. "Users can then select the account they wish to work with to view transactions, transfer money to UK and overseas accounts and create and cancel standing orders." Ninety-six per cent of expats use the internet every day, says HSBC Bank International, adding that to stay ahead, offshore banks must ensure they have market-leading online offers. "This means effectively responding to a rapidly changing market by staying on top of trends such as online communities, as well as improving functionality and implementing state of the art security "Information is displayed initially in summary form to show high level key data by account type, such as interest rate, details of any maturity or notice period, and of course cleared balances. "
January February 2008