Services like Transferwise and Revolut have become increasingly popular for fast currency conversion and low transaction fees. These services advertise themselves as digital bank accounts that drag an archaic banking system into the 21st century.
The truth is that for short trips or small transactions these services work well. For longer stays or more sophisticated usage however both fall short, as many ordinary banking services are not included. Neither for example provide interest rates, loans or even safety guarantees.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, here are ten excellent reasons to open an Offshore Bank Account:
We should be free to live our lives without being dependent on faceless corporations and governments that do not have our best interests at heart. This belief is why SelfKey’s mission is to empower individuals.
That being said, Banks still hold a position of power in modern society and can make life difficult. Therefore it makes sense to maximize your freedom by opening a bank account abroad. This will significantly reduce your dependence on your local bank, and gives you much more flexibility in the long-term.
In addition to an offshore bank account, it also makes sense to look at digital assets as an interesting solution. Cryptocurrency represents a significant shift which allows everyone with an internet connection to operate as their own bank. By creating a SelfKey wallet for example, you can send and receive payments almost for free, without having to worry if your Bank might shut down your account or your government might enact a nonsensical piece of legislation. Thanks to third party service providers it is now even possible for business owners to pay their team members in KEY and other ERC20 tokens.
The more freedom you have the better - which is why a foreign bank account and digital asset wallet makes a lot of sense.
Europe and many other socio-economic regions have experienced a low-interest environment for years. Individuals are punished for holding money and instead are incentivized to spend. The interest rates offered by a typical savings account do not beat inflation making it unattractive to save.
Foreign bank accounts provide an attractive alternative. Countries like Azerbaijan and Georgia offer interest rates on savings accounts north of 7%. This includes inflation, meaning that you can reasonably expect the purchasing power of savings to increase by 7% or more within 12 months of making your deposit.
Of course, this is not guaranteed and you need to do your own research. Undoubtedly however, many foreign countries offer more attractive interest rates than those found in the Western World.
The stability and strength of your banking system depends on many factors - not all of which are clearly discernible. Two things to keep in mind are:
The first point refers to the infrastructure and history of your local banking system. Newly created institutions are more likely to make mistakes and fold, than banks with a strong track record.
Additionally, you might live in an area in which banking is not particularly common - 31% of the world’s adults are underbanked. In such cases, a foreign bank account can not only protect you from a weak domestic system but can give access to a host of powerful financial instruments capable of improving your quality of life.
The second point mentioned above affects all of us. Previously sound financial institutions can collapse without prior warning. Lehman Brothers, the bank that caused the global financial crisis and subsequently folded, was founded in 1850 - nobody identified the immediate risk coming from subprime mortgages.
More recently, Deutsche Bank and Swedbank were forced to pay massive fines due their failed AML practices. Here, perhaps, we can identify an immediate threat before it wreaks havoc on a previously stable banking system. Regardless of the outcome, an offshore bank account can mitigate the risk and allow access to a more robust financial system.
The global financial crisis taught us that the international banking system is frail. All it takes is for one bank - like Lehman Brothers - to collapse for the entire network to be imperiled.
In 2007, the crisis began with the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, something that nobody saw coming. In the following years the western banking system was in grave difficulty and only survived by the skin of its teeth.
Economic collapse is not limited to the Western world. According to the IMF, Venezuela’s inflation rate is projected to reach 10,000,000% in 2019 - which would not only precipitate the total collapse of the economy but of the banking system as well.
Clearly not all banks are created equal and a foreign bank account allows you to hedge against a collapsing local economy.
Interestingly, online “banks” pose an even greater risk due to their lack of accountability to the individual. N26 and others routinely close hundreds of user accounts without prior warning or explanation. Clearly the idea of waking up to find your bank account - on which you rely to pay bills and receive salary - locked is a terrifying proposition.
Instead, open a bank account abroad to reduce risk and minimise your dependence on one financial institution.
Limiting your personal wealth to one currency is risky. Prices are not stable and are typically volatile in times of economic or political turmoil. Below you can see the GBP/EUR exchange rate over the last five years, which clearly shows the significant losses the Pound has had to endure.
As uncertainty over Brexit grows, experts believe that the price will decline further.In this case vast personal fortunes can be eaten up by the mistakes and mismanagement from local government.
To mitigate risk, it makes sense to open an offshore bank account which allows you to store some percentage of your wealth in another currency.
Another advantage of a foreign bank account is that it can be used to rent or buy property. Most countries require a tenant or landlord to have a local bank account. In Germany for example, it is not possible to rent property without a comprehensive credit check which requires a bank account within Germany.
In order to maximise freedom, it is essential that we are not bound to one geographic location. Instead, a foreign bank account allows you to take a meaningful step towards moving and living wherever you choose.
For business owners a foreign bank account often makes sense because it removes the friction of international payments. Domestic wire transfers can be completed in just 24 hours, whereas international wire transfers can take up to five business days.
If your selling goods and services it doesn’t make sense to wait 5 business days until the money has reached your account. Such a delay ruins your customer experience and clients will surely look elsewhere.
Instead, think about where the bulk of your customers are based and register for a bank account in that jurisdiction. Not only will it significantly boost your cash flow but it will also reduce fees.
As you will be aware, Banks charge for outgoing and incoming wire transfers. Fees can easily surpass $30, making it incredibly expensive to transact with international recipients. According to NerdWallet the median fee for an international outgoing wire transfer is $45 which is simply ridiculous.
In a time of cryptocurrency and the world wide web, sending and receiving money should be no more expensive than sending an email. Unfortunately, digital assets have not reached the mainstream yet so a foreign bank account is often the best alternative.
Domestic wire transfers cost roughly half of the international equivalent, which can amount to a significant sum of money for businesses servicing a global client base. Open a bank account abroad to cut down on fees.
Banks typically operate under a national scheme which guarantees the safety of your money. In the UK for example, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) ensures that bank account holders are guaranteed to receive up to 75-85k GBP even if the bank collapses.
Using online banks, like Transferwise, this is not the case. These are regulated as Electronic Money Institutions and act as middlemen between the customer and the bank. In the event that the bank folds, the customer’s money is not protected.
Opening a bank account abroad often requires additional reporting, especially if the account holds a significant amount of funds.
Therefore, a US resident with a foreign bank account holding more than $10,000 is required to report it to the US government. Additionally, income tax needs to be paid on earnings generated by the account. Keep that in mind if you earn interest for example, on a deposit in an offshore bank account - you will also have to pay federal income taxes.
As you can see from the extensive list provided above there are a number of excellent reasons to open an offshore bank account.
Not only does it provide a greater level of freedom, by reducing your dependence on corporations and governments, but it also reduces your risk. Currency, economies and political situations have a tendency to deteriorate and a bank account abroad is an excellent way to hedge against such catastrophes.
To learn more about opening a bank account abroad, make sure to download the SelfKey Wallet and visit the bank accounts marketplace.