Considerations About the Use of Internet Banking

The use of technology has made it much easier to take care of many tasks and responsibilities. In example, the addition of internet banking is something that many people use on a daily basis. Not only is it more convenient than going to the bank or making a phone call to check your account, it is also much quicker. If you have been wondering if internet banking is worth a try, here are some of the benefits it offers.

Even though not all banks currently offer the option to take care of your account online, there are many banks that are beginning to change and broaden their horizons to offer this to their members. It is such a popular and preferred option that many people will choose whether or not to join a bank based on if online banking is supported. Having this option can make your life much easier, especially when you are in a hurry and need to check or change something on your account.

One of the reasons that online banking is so popular is because of the push towards a paperless society. Being able to view your monthly bank statement online is a step towards this. There are still many banks that offer the option of paper statements, but many prefer to view them online. It makes it easier to make sure you don’t miss your statements in the mail every month, and it can also make it easier to keep track of past statements.

Another reason that online banking is so preferential is because it allows you to take care of many banking tasks that previously you would have to either call the bank to handle, or even go to the bank personally for. You can now make transfers and take care of automatic payments via the internet instead of having to wait in a line or on hold on the phone. It makes the process much faster.

It also makes it more convenient to check your balance. For people that access the internet via their cell phones, this is especially true. It is more convenient and easy to check your balance on your account before a purchase when you have the option of internet banking. Otherwise, you would find yourself having to check your balance via an ATM or making a call to the bank for the information.

The downside to checking your balance on the internet can depend a lot on which bank you choose to hold an account with. If the bank does not update their accounts on the internet often enough, you may not find out in time if you have pending actions in your account balance, or even what your current balance is in order to avoid an overdraft fee. While this rarely happens to most people, this is an example of why it is important to have an account with a bank that you know is reliable.

In many cases, you can even apply for different bank services on the internet via bank sites as well. It is not unusual to apply for a loan with your bank via the internet or to make complete changes to your account online as well. Tasks like this would typically take you a while to complete if you went to the bank personally. However, in cases like applying for a loan, you can apply and find your answer much quicker than usual via the internet.

If you have been wondering if internet banking is the right choice for you, consider trying it out for a while. You might find that it makes keeping track of your account even easier than before, and that you have more time to take care of other errands. The only true way to decide if this option is best for you is to experience it for yourself.

Largest Internet Banks

Internet banks, no matter what size, guarantee one thing: accessibility. You can have access to your Internet bank anytime and anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection. You can transfer funds from one account to another, pay your bills, and view your bank transactions and balances whenever you want. Some Internet banks even hook up to vendor sites so that you can purchase your groceries and shop for a new pair of shoes.

Large versus small

Looking for an Internet bank that you think would suit you? Are you unsure if you want to go with the big banks or the small banks? Are you afraid of the instabilities of smaller banks? Or do larger banks intimidate you? You should choose a bank that can address your requirements and that you feel comfortable with. Here’s a comparison so you can make an informed decision.

Smaller banks tend to offer a narrower ranger of online services compared to their larger counterparts. With a smaller pool of funds, smaller Internet banks do not have the flexibility to offer high interest rates. But the opening and maintaining balance required by these banks are lower, too, so it is much easier to open an account with them. If you only need basic Internet banking services such as local fund transfers, deposits, crediting, etc., then these banks may be sufficient.

Large banks, on the other hand, can compensate for many of the shortcomings that their smaller constituents cannot fulfill. Interest rates continue to rise whenever the amount of the transaction rises. Larger banks have a farther reach, allowing them to have more associates worldwide.

The infrastructures of larger Internet banks are also substantially different. Aside from accessing your account, you can also gain access to your accounts via SMS using your GSM handy phones. You can also send instructions to the bank through this technology. Larger banks tend to have more elaborate security systems to ensure the safety of your money.

Offshore Internet Banking Advantages and Disadvantages

The topic of offshore internet banking is a hot one and one that is increasingly growing in popularity not only within the consumer banking community, but also the business or corporate banking sector.

The beauty of offshore online banking is that in addition to enabling you to conduct banking activities allowed by traditional and local brick and mortar businesses, it allows you more variety and flexibility in terms of your banking needs. For example, if you travel often, offshore online banking gives you the flexibility to conduct business on to go from anywhere, while ensuring that you have access to the type of currency if you need at a time you need it.

Having said that, not all banks offer online or internet banking services as this service costs the banks a significant amount of money. Programming sophisticated and secure systems require the effort of several full time computer engineers, full security and compliance departments, as well as heavy overhead to support the service on an ongoing basis.

Because there are so many variables involved in offering this service, offshore internet banking services vary from one financial institution to another. Some have better systems while others have work to do. A lot of this is predicated on the resources the bank has dedicated to this initiative, both in terms of quantity and quality.

Opening an Offshore Bank Account

Before diving further into this topic, I want to clarify that engaging in offshore internet banking is not about evading taxes. It is about mitigating risk of capital loss due to no fault of your own. So when considering a foreign jurisdiction in which to establish an offshore bank account, consider one that is politically stable and financially strong. In addition, it helps to select a jurisdiction that pays an attractive interest rate and has low to no income tax. Some of the most preferred jurisdictions over the years have been Switzerland, Cayman Islands, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Opening a personal bank account is usually a very personal activity. With offshore internet banking however, there are ways you can get started remotely without having to show up to the bank’s local office, saving a ton of time, money and mainly frustration.

One such way is by visiting a local bank’s branch in your domicile state, or home country. Many big banks that offer internet banking have a multi-national presence. Chances are good that your selected bank has a local branch near where you live, despite being headquartered in another offshore jurisdiction.

In other cases, there are international banks that may not have local branches near where you live, but are willing and able to establish an offshore bank account for you through email, snail mail, fax and telephone. There are usually a set of documents required by banks in order to execute this process. Therefore you can still open a foreign bank account with an offshore bank without having to leave your country, but it may come with a little more effort, and sometimes the struggle involved in communicating with someone overseas.

The Advantages of Offshore Internet Banking

Here are some advantages of offshore internet banking that you should know about.

Protection from sovereign risk – as mention already above, parking funds in foreign bank accounts mitigates the risk of loss of capital resulting from freeze or confiscation of funds by Governments without any fault of your own. This risk is less of a concern in a developed economy with a solid banking infrastructure such as the United States, but it is nonetheless an inherent risk that exists.

Tax benefits – many offshore jurisdictions have low to no income tax implications on interest income, or income from business activities.

Higher Interest Rates – because many offshore banks operate with low costs, they can afford to offer higher interest rates compared to larger multi-national names. In fact, in developed economies like in Europe and North America, regulatory compliance requirements is seen by many as form of taxation on banks, thereby increasing overhead costs and lowering interest rates.

On Demand Access to Statements – offshore internet banking gives you instant access to your statements where you can view your activities on a real time basis. This includes past and pending deposits and withdrawals. You can therefore access your account balance at anytime.

Money Management – with offshore internet banking you can transfer funds between accounts across the globe instantly. Offshore banks have inventories of various currencies and can help you fulfill banking transactions in multiple countries. You can schedule automatic payments to vendors to release automatically.

There are several other advantages to offshore internet banking. You can open offshore trading accounts and establish offshore brokerage accounts to conduct trading and investment activity (there can be tax advantages to this). Conducting transactions online is not only mostly free, but also very efficient. Transaction time online is simply much less. You can also have streams of income potentially directly deposited straight into your offshore online bank account.

From a personal finance perspective, downloading banking activity from your offshore online bank account is easy and can be done instantly. Most online banking platforms are designed to feed information into financial or personal accounting software or to spreadsheets like Excel. Individuals can save a significant amount on accountant fees just by utilizing this feature. Not to mention more intimate knowledge and management of their own finances.

For those looking for anonymity, offshore online bank accounts also allow you to conduct banking anonymously as per bank secrecy guidelines.

The Disadvantages of Offshore Internet Banking

Merely establishing an offshore bank account can be a reason for the Government to put more focus on your activities. After all, many use offshore internet banking as a mechanism to conduct illegal activity and evade taxes. Some specific disadvantages of offshore internet banking as a result of conducting business through foreign bank accounts are the following:

Knowledge of Internet – There is a certain level of internet savvy required to be able to navigate your way through offshore internet banking platforms to ensure you are getting exactly what you want. This is a big reason why some elderly shy away from conducting banking online.

Deposit Timeline – Because many banks do not have the technology to be able to collect deposits remotely, you may have difficulty depositing all your proceeds. While many banks have developed electronic scanning technology, others have yet to catch up. There is no consistency to say the least.

Security / Fraud Implications – because banking is conducted online, offshore internet banking exposes you to the risk of network intrusion or breach. Because information is transferred electronically and stored in various databases, breaches can cause private and sensitive information to leak out into the wrong hands. But then again, this is no different than losing your check book if compared to traditional brick and mortar banking.

Spam Mail – offshore online banking also means that you will receive emails from the foreign bank you have your offshore bank accounts with. Internet predators recognize this as an opportunity for phishing, or fish for private and sensitive information. Many times you may see an email in your inbox from what seems like your foreign banking institution. However it is not. These are phishing emails hoping for you to login and enter your personal information such as login and password.

TIPS: Here are a few tips to avoid falling for phishing scams. First, when you receive an email from your bank, call them to verify that they sent the email. Second, instead of opening the email they sent you, visit the bank’s website directly and see if you can conduct what’s asked of you on their site by you logging in directly rather than clicking a login link in an email message.

Third, if you were to open the email and click on any link in it for whatever reason, once the link takes you to a website where you are required to enter personal information, look for security symbols such as an https URL address or a padlock on the lower right hand side corner of the web browser. There are other security measures as well that can be visible spotted. Read online for more on this topic.

Financial Security – some offshore bank locations are not very financially secure or stable. For example, during the global economic crisis of 2008, many savers lost money parked in offshore bank accounts in some destinations such as Iceland. I don’t mean to scare you by any means as this situation is rare, and in most cases those who suffer losses are compensated in some way over time. However, know that this inherent risk exists. Always look for deposit insurance. The bigger the allowance the better.

Credibility by Association – as I’ve already mentioned, offshore internet banking has negative connotations attached to it, often associated with money laundering, use of illegal monies, untaxed monies and support of illegal causes. Offshore bank accounts at times are tied to crime rings and terrorists. What does this mean for you? Although you may engage in offshore banking legally and legitimately, understand that there will be closer scrutiny over you by the Governments.

Access Restrictions – offshore banks are in destinations far away from you, therefore more difficult and expensive to access. In many countries, communication in person is preferred to communicating over phone, email and snail mail, therefore internet banking can get a bit difficult and frustrating. I see this trend slowly changing with banks understanding the need to communicate at all levels and mediums to satisfy a global audience.

Expensive – offshore internet banking is usually more expensive to set up and administer and thus more accessible and feasible for those more affluent or high income earners. It’s not so much that it is expensive to open a foreign bank account. It is not. However, many times you will need to go through a firm that specializes in helping expatriates establish and manage foreign bank accounts. All these activities cost money.

Internet banking today is very convenient and is accessible to almost everyone. For the average individual it can be a great offshore tax planning tool to add to the mix. For those that travel, foreign internet banking can provide all sorts of convenience, allowing one to transact anywhere and with anyone. So if you liked what you read about offshore online banking, I highly recommend you look into it further to see how it can help you meet your objectives.