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Offshore Bank Account Opening and Offshore Banking Benefits

An offshore bank account is an account which is set up outside the country of residence of the account holder. The main reason for an individual or company to employ offshore banking is to capitalize on jurisdictions that offer a low or zero percent tax on their wealth. Offshore banking can cater to investors of all levels and the process to open an offshore account is relatively simple and similar to that of your standard local bank account.

Benefits of an Offshore Bank Account

Offshore banking has been long considered to be an option only available to the wealthy, however in recent times it has often been employed by individuals or companies that wish to invest their money to gain immediate and long term financial benefits.

When opening a bank account overseas, effective tax planning and account anonymity are two aspects which are considered with upmost importance. Other advantages of offshore banking include;

Economic and financial stability of the chosen jurisdiction
Low or zero percent tax
Safe and secure banking enabling anonymity
Flexibility in terms of access to funds globally
Enhanced legal and political conditions
Improved asset protection
Higher interest rates from banks in selected jurisdictions

Essentially an offshore account provides the means for wealth to be protected, preserved and ultimately increased, as favorable conditions are often offered by offshore banks. These factors have contributed to the increasing number of investors opting to deposit their money in international bank accounts.

The more favorable jurisdictions considered for offshore account opening provide low or zero percent tax, often referred to as ‘tax havens’, such as the BVI, Cayman Islands and Seychelles. Most tax havens ensure that your account details are kept in confidence, providing improved and enhanced asset protection.

Process of Opening an Offshore Bank Account

Finding a suitable jurisdiction

When deciding to open an offshore bank account, the first step is to determine which jurisdiction favors the investor the most. It is often recommended to acquire the assistance and guidance of a professional firm on order to assist with the process. There is a wide selection of jurisdictions which need to be considered when opening an offshore bank account as each poses its own benefits to investors.

Begin the account opening procedure

Once an appropriate jurisdiction is chosen, you can initiate the account opening process. A professional firm who has contacts with reputable banks internationally can liaise with the bank on the behalf of the client ensuring that the process is completed in line with all legalities. In the event that you do not seek assistance from a firm, locating a jurisdiction to open an offshore account is the first step to establishing it.

Locating a suitable banking institution

After a jurisdiction has been chosen, research on the local banks and finally determining which bank offers the best interest rate and services to your specific requirements should be conducted. This will enable you to determine the regulations the bank must comply with, how they open accounts, and whether you need to travel overseas to open the account – if they require personal presence.

Most offshore banks are flexible in their procedure and may not require the client to travel.

Selecting a bank account type

This is followed by finding out what type of account the client requires. The type of bank account will also determine what documentation is needed and the legal requirements the offshore bank must satisfy. For example, in order to open a corporate offshore account, a minimum amount of capital is required and this figure may vary with different jurisdictions.

Supplying the required documentation

The documentation that is needed can then be processed after the above factors have been determined. The procedure after this point is dependent on the bank’s application process and the jurisdiction’s laws. Generally, an offshore bank will require certain documentation, including a proof of identity, proof of address, while corporate and investment accounts may have additional requirements such as business plans or minimum amount of investment.

Types of Bank Accounts available

The three main categories of offshore bank accounts are personal, corporate and investment. The type of account will determine the bank account opening process. Any type of bank account you decide to open must meet the specific requirements of the jurisdiction and the chosen offshore bank.

Personal Account – A personal bank account is one which an individual opens for private use, and not for business purposes. One of the main reasons for a personal account is to enhance an individual’s personal capital, thus enabling an individual to benefit from an offshore jurisdiction with low or no tax and potentially improved political and economic conditions.

Corporate Account – In contrast, a corporate bank account is one which is employed by companies and businesses therefore the services offered in this account are specifically tailored for businesses. A minimum amount of capital is required in order to establish the corporate account.

Investment Account – An investment account presents potential investors with the perfect environment to manage their wealth and deal with their funds. It can also serve the purpose of buying stocks, mutual funds, custodial accounts and individual brokerage accounts. This type of account is classified as a financial tool as it enables investors to buy stocks and bonds whilst offering high security and profitable returns.

DeltaQuest Group -

DeltaQuest Group operates as an all encompassing consultative facility for our clients’ personal, investment, corporate, legal, accounting and tax planning goals.

In line with our expert knowledge in providing management consultancy across the globe, we present business administration and formation solutions that assist our clients in achieving efficient administration, management and full optimization of their business entity.

Best Commercial Loans For Business Owners

Discover the “Forgotten” SBA Program Worthy of another Look

Much has been written on these pages in the past two years about a little understood and even less used commercial real estate loan program called the 504. As our lending firm was the first and is still the only nationwide commercial lender to exclusively focus on only this loan product, I’d like to succinctly put to rest some of the more common misconceptions about this terrific loan product. Rather than waste anymore ink, let’s get right to issue at hand . . .

Who Uses It?

The 504 loan is for commercial property owner-users. It is not an investment real estate loan product per se. Borrowers of 504 loans must occupy at least a simple majority (or no less than 51%) of the commercial property within the next year in order to qualify. Two operating companies can come together to form an Eligible Passive Concern (EPC) (otherwise known as a Real Estate Holding Company, typically as an LLC or LP), however, to take title to the commercial property. In other words, a 504 loan doesn’t have to be just one small business owner purchasing his commercial property. It could be a physician and an accountant each utilizing 3,000 square feet in a 10,000 square feet office building (at 6,000 total square feet in their LLC, they would occupy 60% and be eligible) for example. Additionally, at least 51% of the total ownership of the Operating company(ies) and EPC must be comprised of U.S. citizens or resident legal aliens (those considered to be Legal Permanent Residents) to qualify.

There are no revenue restrictions or ceilings for 504 loans, but there are three financial eligibility standards unique to them: operating company(ies’) tangible business net worth cannot exceed $7 million; operating company(ies’) net income cannot average more than $2.5 million during the previous two calendar years; and the guarantors/principals’ personal, non-retirement, unencumbered liquid assets cannot exceed the proposed project size. These three criteria usually do not disqualify the typical, privately-held small to mid-sized business owner; only the absolute largest ones get tripped-up on these. Last fiscal year (October 1, 2004 to September 30, 2005), nearly 8,000 business owners used 504 loans for over $11 billion in total project costs representing a recent five-year growth rate in the program of 22% year-over-year.

Why Use It?

These loans are structured with a conventional mortgage (or first trust-deed) for 50 percent of the total project costs (inclusive of: land and existing building; hard construction/renovation costs; furniture, fixtures and equipment [FF&E]; soft costs; and closing costs) combined with a government-guaranteed bond for 40 percent. The remaining 10 percent is the borrowers’ equity and is usually a third to half as much as traditional lenders require. This lower equity requirement lowers the risk for small business owners as opposed to lowering a lender’s risk profile with more capital injected into the project like with ordinary commercial lending. It also allows the small business owner to better utilize their hard-earned capital, while still getting all of the wealth-creating benefits commercial property ownership provides.

Unlike most commercial bank deals, these loans are meant to finance total project costs as opposed to a percentage of the appraised value or purchase price, whichever is less. The first mortgage (or trust-deed) is typically a fully amortizing, 25-year term at market rates, while the second mortgage (or trust-deed) is a 20-year term, but with the interest rate fixed for the entire time at below-market rates. The second mortgage (trust-deed) on 504 loans is guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and is, contrary to popular belief about SBA loan programs, the cheapest money available for typical small business owners. For most of the past two years, the SBA bond rate hovered near six percent fixed for 20 years, which is an incredible deal for any small to mid-sized business owner and very tough to beat. Not only do these loans provide better cash flow for borrowers (by borrowing at better rates and terms), but they also provide the highest cash-on-cash return available in the commercial-mortgage industry which is a financial metric used by most successful real estate investors. Furthermore, these loans are assumable should borrowers decide to sell their property in the future, but a better strategy for most small business owners would be to sell their operating company while keeping their EPC and cashing rent checks long into their retirement.

Why You May Not Know Much about These Loans?

Many bankers and brokers don’t like to offer 504′s because they fundamentally are smaller loan amounts for the bank (typically only 50% first mortgages or trust-deeds versus the common 80%), which means a banker has to work that much harder to bring in more assets and the smaller loan amounts also hit the typical commercial loan officer right in the pocketbook. They would rather discuss the SBA’s more notorious 7(a) loan program, which has a well-established, if not egregiously well-paying secondary market (due to Prime-based, floating rate pricing) already in place, when the issue of low down-payment commercial loans comes up. When you couple those two reasons with the fact that these 504 loans take more effort and skill only on the part of the lender, it’s no wonder this loan product has only recently started to catch fire in the marketplace.

So what are Some Common Questions about These Loans?

Isn’t There Tons of Paperwork Involved?

This was certainly the case years ago, but it is no more. With the advent of more and more specialty lenders and the recent focus on streamlining the SBA application process, 504 loans are no more involved than most ordinary commercial loans. While the documentation is specific and detailed, most small business owners are ably organized and prepared when the alternative is to pay two to three points higher in interest rates with no documentation or stated income commercial loans.

Aren’t There Extra Fees Involved?

When all closing costs are considered, 504 loans usually average about 25 to 50 basis points more in total loan fees on an average sized transaction. With stronger borrowers (i.e. better debt service coverage ratios [DSCR], higher personal liquidity, and/or better personal credit scores), these fees can usually be negotiated lower. Most small business owners utilizing 504 loans are willing to pay slightly higher fees, however, in order to receive longer-term, below-market fixed interest rates on nearly half of their deal, while receiving the highest cash-on-cash return from their property. This is exactly the reason my business partner and I chose a 504 loan when plenty of alternatives were available to us. That’s right – we actually have a 504 loan and have been in the shoes of 504 loan borrowers, so I have first-hand experience of using the loan product that we offer.

Don’t These Loans Take 3 or 4 Months to Close?

This is another old relic of the past regarding these SBA loans. Our quickest 504 loan to date took only 35 days from the first phone call to the closing table, and the commercial appraiser ate-up most of those days while we waited. We’ve done countless others in much less than the typical 60 day commercial real estate contract. If a lender claims they need nearly four months to fund a 504 loan, then perhaps you should look elsewhere. Twenty-four to forty-eight hour pre-approvals and four or five-day commitments are becoming the norm with most specialized SBA lenders.

Aren’t These Loans for Start-ups or Low DSCR Borrowers?

Plenty of 504 loans are approved with start-up borrowers and/or borrowers that don’t have DSCR’s greater than 1.25 times. While it is true that most 504 loans are for more credit-worthy (usually bankable) borrowers, this is not a necessary condition. Frequently, 504 loan borrowers with lots of experience in a given industry, but no actual ownership experience, will have an easier time securing a 504 loan than a conventional bank loan. Projections-based deals and franchised deals are often great candidates for 504 loans when the project involves commercial property. There are other SBA loan programs that may be a better fit for pure start-ups, as 504 loans do not allow for the financing of working capital, but those other SBA loans can often be used in conjunction with SBA 504 loans.

Doesn’t a Borrower have to Pledge their House as Collateral?

Only some lenders require this for 504 loans, and it is increasingly rare. Other SBA loans, on the other hand, must be “fully collateralized” in order to maintain their government-guarantee which is where this generalization comes from. Most 504 loans only secure the commercial property and/or equipment that are financed as part of the 504 loan project.

What if a Borrower has a “Checkered Past”?

Misdemeanors and/or felonies are not in and of themselves, reasons to disqualify someone from getting a 504 loan. There is an added process that often lengthens the time to closing, but the SBA usually approves borrowers with misdemeanors or borrowers with felonies that occurred in the distant past. Defaulting on previous government-guaranteed financing, however, will preclude someone from securing a 504 loan or any other SBA loan. Personal bankruptcies that occurred more than seven years ago usually will not prevent a 504 loan approval, assuming the present-day underwriting variables look promising, but more current bankruptcies are examined subjectively and frequently won’t be approved.

How do you determine who to Call for a 504 Loan?

If you visit a lender’s website to do some due diligence on them, make sure they at least list and/or mention 504 loans, as a means by which you might gauge their competency with these loans. Any lender can say they do 504 loans, but it is far better to work with those that can demonstrate their past experiences with the product, as well as detail their commitment to it on a go-forward basis. Like most things delivered better by specialists, it isn’t usually a question of if a regular lender can provide a 504 loan; it is a question of how well they can provide it. Choose wisely.

Christopher Hurn is President of Mercantile Commercial Capital (MCC), the nation’s leading 90-percent loan-to-cost commercial loan provider. He was recently named 2006 Banker of the Year by his industry’s only trade association, the Marketing Guru of the Year by Coleman Publishing, and the SBA’s Financial Services Champion of the Year for Florida and for the twelve-state Southeast region.

Get Various Banking Resume Objectives for a Career in Banking

Necessity of Objective Statement

As the name depicts, objective is the goal that you set to accomplish any particular task. When applying for any job, your objective is to see yourself in a better position after a few years. While applying for the banking jobs, your banking resume objective must tell to the potential employer about your future goals working as a bank employee. This statement will show your desire to join the company and get the job of your dreams. It must talk of your future career goals and explain to recruiters how you are going to accomplish these goals while benefiting the company.

Banking Sector

The job in the banking industry is of great responsibility as the person has to deal with the financial transactions and interpret the reports prepared by the bank as a result of the transaction. It is the sector where one has to check all the transactions of the concerned bank and prepare the relevant reports. The banking resume objectives must highlight the person’s knowledge in the domain and stress on listing the details that will convince the employer to hire him/her.

Job Description

There are various positions in the banking sector. The common job responsibilities that a banking associate has to handle are:

• Generating the revenue
• Creating financial portfolio
• Strategic Planning
• Managing the profits
• Building relationship and customer service
• Training the Management
• Direct and control the retail banking activities and resources
• Discuss business strategies with the clients
• Resolve the functional related queries and undertake functional testing

Important Words to Appear in Banking Objective

Objective statement is the introductory section of a resume. It will be the first section that will be viewed by the employer. Hence, it is necessary that this part is written clearly and in a convincing way. Going through this part, employer should get complete idea of your resume details. It is important to include the words that describe your existing skills. Below are provided such words that can boost the quality of your objective statement and make your resume stand out from the rest of them.

• Enthusiastic, self motivated, energetic, positive thinker, creative
• Strong analytical and logical approach
• Thorough knowledge of finance and banking
• Strong mathematical skills

The job in the banking sector can be highly satisfying and extremely fulfilling. If you are seeking a career in the banking sector, make sure that your career statement highlights the qualifying criterion and the background in this industry. Here we present you some examples of the banking resume objective statements to give a detailed idea of writing such career statements for different banking positions.

Sample Objective Statements

For Experienced Banking Professional

As an experienced banking professional, I am seeking the position of a manager in a reputed bank to put the past experience to good use. Possess strong strategic planning skills along with the decision making and finance management skills.

For Fresher Applicant

As a beginner in the banking industry, I would like to make effective use of my analytical skills, reasoning and knowledge. My job as a banking professional will include cash flow management, operating the working capital and performing audits and compliance.

For Internship Candidates

As an intern, I would like to make effective use of my existing knowledge and skills regarding the banking sector in completing the assigned task efficiently. My job duties would include adding entries in general ledger and balancing the financial statements.

General Objective Statement for Banking Jobs

Self motivated banking professional looking for the any position in the nationalized bank where I can make use of my quality education and put extensive experience to good use. My leadership qualities can help you in managing the work and attain the company goals effectively.

If you are really keen to make a career in the banking industry, you can apply in different banks and financial organizations. The resume objective of the banking professional should reflect the applicant’s knowledge of the work carried out in the banks and financial organizations.

Going through the sample resumes, you will get complete idea of writing the objectives for banking jobs. There are different positions in this industry and you need to change your objective statement depending on the position you are applying for.

Alternative Financing for Wholesale Produce Distributors

Equipment Financing/Leasing

One avenue is equipment financing/leasing. Equipment lessors help small and medium size businesses obtain equipment financing and equipment leasing when it is not available to them through their local community bank.

The goal for a distributor of wholesale produce is to find a leasing company that can help with all of their financing needs. Some financiers look at companies with good credit while some look at companies with bad credit. Some financiers look strictly at companies with very high revenue (10 million or more). Other financiers focus on small ticket transaction with equipment costs below $100,000.

Financiers can finance equipment costing as low as 1000.00 and up to 1 million. Businesses should look for competitive lease rates and shop for equipment lines of credit, sale-leasebacks & credit application programs. Take the opportunity to get a lease quote the next time you’re in the market.

Merchant Cash Advance

It is not very typical of wholesale distributors of produce to accept debit or credit from their merchants even though it is an option. However, their merchants need money to buy the produce. Merchants can do merchant cash advances to buy your produce, which will increase your sales.

Factoring/Accounts Receivable Financing & Purchase Order Financing

One thing is certain when it comes to factoring or purchase order financing for wholesale distributors of produce: The simpler the transaction is the better because PACA comes into play. Each individual deal is looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Is PACA a Problem? Answer: The process has to be unraveled to the grower.

Factors and P.O. financers do not lend on inventory. Let’s assume that a distributor of produce is selling to a couple local supermarkets. The accounts receivable usually turns very quickly because produce is a perishable item. However, it depends on where the produce distributor is actually sourcing. If the sourcing is done with a larger distributor there probably won’t be an issue for accounts receivable financing and/or purchase order financing. However, if the sourcing is done through the growers directly, the financing has to be done more carefully.

An even better scenario is when a value-add is involved. Example: Somebody is buying green, red and yellow bell peppers from a variety of growers. They’re packaging these items up and then selling them as packaged items. Sometimes that value added process of packaging it, bulking it and then selling it will be enough for the factor or P.O. financer to look at favorably. The distributor has provided enough value-add or altered the product enough where PACA does not necessarily apply.

Another example might be a distributor of produce taking the product and cutting it up and then packaging it and then distributing it. There could be potential here because the distributor could be selling the product to large supermarket chains – so in other words the debtors could very well be very good. How they source the product will have an impact and what they do with the product after they source it will have an impact. This is the part that the factor or P.O. financer will never know until they look at the deal and this is why individual cases are touch and go.

What can be done under a purchase order program?

P.O. financers like to finance finished goods being dropped shipped to an end customer. They are better at providing financing when there is a single customer and a single supplier.

Let’s say a produce distributor has a bunch of orders and sometimes there are problems financing the product. The P.O. Financer will want someone who has a big order (at least $50,000.00 or more) from a major supermarket. The P.O. financer will want to hear something like this from the produce distributor: ” I buy all the product I need from one grower all at once that I can have hauled over to the supermarket and I don’t ever touch the product. I am not going to take it into my warehouse and I am not going to do anything to it like wash it or package it. The only thing I do is to obtain the order from the supermarket and I place the order with my grower and my grower drop ships it over to the supermarket. ”

This is the ideal scenario for a P.O. financer. There is one supplier and one buyer and the distributor never touches the inventory. It is an automatic deal killer (for P.O. financing and not factoring) when the distributor touches the inventory. The P.O. financer will have paid the grower for the goods so the P.O. financer knows for sure the grower got paid and then the invoice is created. When this happens the P.O. financer might do the factoring as well or there might be another lender in place (either another factor or an asset-based lender). P.O. financing always comes with an exit strategy and it is always another lender or the company that did the P.O. financing who can then come in and factor the receivables.

The exit strategy is simple: When the goods are delivered the invoice is created and then someone has to pay back the purchase order facility. It is a little easier when the same company does the P.O. financing and the factoring because an inter-creditor agreement does not have to be made.

Sometimes P.O. financing can’t be done but factoring can be.

Let’s say the distributor buys from different growers and is carrying a bunch of different products. The distributor is going to warehouse it and deliver it based on the need for their clients. This would be ineligible for P.O. financing but not for factoring (P.O. Finance companies never want to finance goods that are going to be placed into their warehouse to build up inventory). The factor will consider that the distributor is buying the goods from different growers. Factors know that if growers don’t get paid it is like a mechanics lien for a contractor. A lien can be put on the receivable all the way up to the end buyer so anyone caught in the middle does not have any rights or claims.

The idea is to make sure that the suppliers are being paid because PACA was created to protect the farmers/growers in the United States. Further, if the supplier is not the end grower then the financer will not have any way to know if the end grower gets paid.

Example: A fresh fruit distributor is buying a big inventory. Some of the inventory is converted into fruit cups/cocktails. They’re cutting up and packaging the fruit as fruit juice and family packs and selling the product to a large supermarket. In other words they have almost altered the product completely. Factoring can be considered for this type of scenario. The product has been altered but it is still fresh fruit and the distributor has provided a value-add.

Internet Banking: Relevance in a Changing World

Surprising, but true – Internet-based activity is not the preserve of the young “digital native” generation alone. A 2008 survey says that Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1976) uses Internet banking significantly more than any other demographic segment, with two thirds of Internet users in this age group banking online.

Gen X users have also professed their preference for applications such as Facebook, to share, connect and be part of a larger community.

This is some irony in this, since online banking, as we know it today, offers minimal interactivity. Unlike in a branch, where the comfort of two way interaction facilitates the consummation of a variety of transactions, the one way street of e-banking has only managed to enable the more routine tasks, such as balance enquiry or funds transfer.

It’s not hard to put two and two together. A clear opportunity exists for banks that can transform today’s passive Internet banking offering into one that provides a more widespread and interactive customer experience.

It is therefore imperative that banks transform their online offering, such that it matches the new expectations of customers. Moreover, Internet banking must journey to popular online customer hangouts, rather than wait for customers to come to it.

There are clear indications that the shift towards a “next generation” online banking environment has already been set in motion. It is only a matter of time before these trends become the norm.

Leveraging of Social Networks

Forward thinking banks are leveraging existing social networks on external sites to increase their visibility among interested groups. They are also deploying social software technology on their own sites to engage the same communities in two way discussions. Thus, their Internet banking has assumed a more pervasive persona – customers are engaging with the bank, along with its products and services even when they’re not actually transacting online.

Heightened visibility apart, banks can gain tremendous customer insight from such unstructured, informal interactions. For example, a discussion on the uncertain financial future among a group of 18 to 25 year olds could be a signal to banks to offer long term investment products to a segment that was previously not considered a target. Going one step further, a positive buzz around a newly launched service can create valuable word-of-mouth advertising for the business.

Collaborating through Web 2.0

The collaborative aspect of Web 2.0 applications has enabled banks to draw customers inside their fold more than ever before. Traditional methods such as focus group discussions or market research suffer from the disadvantages of high cost, limited scope and potential to introduce bias. Feedback forms merely serve as a post-mortem. In contrast, Web 2.0 has the ability to carry a vast audience along right from the start, and continue to do so perpetually. Thus, an interested community of prospects and customers participate in co-creating products and services which can fulfil their expectations.

The pervasiveness of Web 2.0 enables delivery of e-banking across multiple online locations and web-based gadgets such as Yahoo!Widgets, Windows Live or the iPhone. This means next generation online banking customers will enjoy heightened access and convenience

A New York based firm of analysts found that 15% of the 70 banks tracked by them had adopted Web 2.0, a number of them having done so within the last 12 months.

Standard Chartered Bank employees connect with their colleagues through Facebook and use the platform to share knowledge, clarify questions and participate in discussions on ongoing company activities.

Bank of America, Wachovia Bank and Commonwealth Credit Union have built a presence within interactive media to create awareness and keep up a dialogue with interested communities. They have employed a variety of methods, ranging from creating YouTube communities to launching campaigns on Current TV, a channel in which viewers determine content.

Personalisation of Online Banking

Vanilla e-banking divides customers into very large, heterogeneous groups – typically, corporate, retail or SME, with one type of Internet banking page for each. That’s in sharp contradiction to how banking organisations would like to view their clientele. Banks are moving towards customer-specificity, almost viewing each client as a “segment of one”, across other channels, and online banking is set to follow suit. For instance, a specific home page for home loan customers and another for private banking clients could well be a possibility in future.

Interestingly, National Bank of Kuwait had the foresight to do this several years ago – they enabled customers to determine which products they would view and access, and were rewarded with a dramatic increase in online transactions.

Money Monitor from Yes Bank allows customers to choose their landing page – for example, they can set “all transactions”, “net worth” or “portfolio” as their default view. Other features include the ability to categorise transactions as per customers’ convenience and the printing of custom reports.

Empowerment Online

Beyond doubt, Internet banking has created a more informed, empowered class of customers. This is set to climb to the next level once customers are allowed to proactively participate in many more transaction-related processes. The Internet has already made it possible for customers to compare product loan offerings, simulate financial scenarios and design custom retirement portfolios. Going forward, they would be able to consummate related transactions – which means, after comparing interest rates, they could originate a loan online, and once secured, they can begin to repay it online as well.

Portalisation

The emergence of Web 2.0 technology coupled with banks’ desire to personalise their e-banking to the highest degree is likely to result in “portalisation” of Internet banking. The idea of banking customers being able to create their own spaces online, filled with all that is relevant to them, is not that far-fetched. Customers can personalise their Internet banking page to reflect the positions of multiple accounts across different banks; they could include their credit card information, subscribe to their favourite financial news, consolidate their physical assets position, share their experiences with a group and do more – all from one “place”.

Money Monitor enables customers to add multiple “accounts” (from a choice of 9,000) to their page. Accounts could be savings or loan accounts with major Indian banks, or those with utilities providers, credit card companies, brokerage firms and even frequent flyer programs. Users can customise their pages as described earlier.

As banks seek to develop their Internet banking vision for the future, in parallel, they will also need to address the key issues of security and “due defence”. While it is every marketer’s dream to have customers work as ambassadors, adequate precaution must be taken to prevent the proliferation of malicious or spurious publicity. Therefore, before an individual is allowed to participate in a networking forum, he or she must have built up a favorable track record with the bank. The individual must be a recognized customer of the bank, having used a minimum number of products over a reasonable length of time. Qualitative information about the person’s interaction with the bank’s support staff (for example frequency and type of calls made to their call centre, outcome of such interaction and so on) may be invaluable in profiling the “right” type of customer who can be recruited as a possible advocate.

Collaborative Web 2.0 applications may necessitate opening up banks’ websites to outside technology and information exchange with third party sites, raising the spectre of data and infrastructure security. A robust mechanism of checks and balances must be built to ensure that the third party sites are secure, appropriately certified and pose no threat to the home banks’ sites. Likewise, before a third party widget is allowed to be brought on to a site, it must have passed through stringent security control.

Due diligence must be exercised before permitting users to place a link to another site to guard against the possibility of inadvertent download of malicious software, which could, in the worst case, even result in phishing originating from the banks’ sites.

It is equally important for a bank to guard its customers against invasion of privacy, data theft or misuse. The concept of portalisation envisages deploying technology to bring information from other banks’ or financial service providers’ websites into the home bank’s site. The home bank must ensure that its customers’ personal or transaction related information, which may be shared with the other providers, is not susceptible to leakage or outright misuse.

Banks will do well to partner with an Internet banking solution provider which has not only the expertise to translate their vision into a cutting edge e-banking experience for the user, but also the foresight to define boundaries for safety. With security concerns adequately addressed, next generation Internet banking is full of exciting possibilities. Banks that seize the opportunity may find that Internet banking can become a means of differentiating themselves from competitors, rather than a mere cost cutting tool. Clearly, providing a more powerful and interactive e-banking experience, is the way forward.