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Internet banks: What you should know

Smart­phone or Internet banks offer cer­tain advan­tages when com­pared to classic finan­cial insti­tu­tions. One big draw­back though is their some­times restricted options for con­tact.

They have smart names such as “Rev­olut”, “Neon” or “Zak”  and adver­tise their low fees and cut­ting-edge apps: The use of smart­phone or Internet banks is on the rise in Switzer­land, too.

As far as costs are con­cerned, it is hard to dis­miss their advan­tages when com­pared to tra­di­tional finan­cial insti­tu­tions. One cur­rent case how­ever shows that you should also seri­ously con­sider the dis­ad­van­tages of such a banking solu­tion: As recently reported by Kassen­sturz, the accounts of sev­eral “Rev­olut” Internet banking cus­tomers seem to have been frozen. And con­tacting them wasn’t easy, since it was only ever stan­dard replies that were returned.

Since Internet banks save costs by not pro­viding phys­ical branches, they can offer their prod­ucts at com­pa­rably favourable terms. That there some­times is a lack of options to con­tact them in case of query or prob­lems could how­ever have serious draw­backs for cus­tomers - the price to pay for these banks’ favourable fees and exchange rates. Tra­di­tional banks also increas­ingly offer sim­ilar prod­ucts, but with the added advan­tage of better helpdesks/support.

Some tips for using smart­phone or Internet banks:

  • You should be aware of the prob­lems involved with for­eign banks - you should for instance never expect the same quality and the same kind of sup­port as with tra­di­tional finan­cial insti­tu­tions.
  • Don’t have an Internet bank as your only facility, but make sure to also keep an addi­tional account which you can for instance use to pay at favourable terms when on hol­iday.
  • Don’t just rely on one pay­ment facility when on hol­iday, but always keep a second option avail­able - and this applies across the board, not just for Internet banks.
  • Only credit your Internet bank facility with as much money as you will need in the fore­see­able future.

 

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