Advances in internet, mobile, and telecommunication have allowed people to work remotely instead of getting stuck in a traditional, nine-to-five desk job.
This has led to the rise of digital nomads — individuals who work remotely while travelling the world.
At first glance, the freedom to work whenever and wherever you want is enticing. Yet, the digital nomad lifestyle is not without its challenges. For one, getting paid on time is going to be your main concern. Without enough funds, you’re unable to fulfill your day-to-day needs, much less carry on this lifestyle.
As a digital nomad, you’ll need reliable banks that allow you to receive payments and access your accounts from anywhere in the world. Luckily, developments in banking have made it possible to transact no matter where you are.
Below are some trustworthy international banks and payment platforms that you may want to consider.
6 International Banks and Fintech Options for Digital Nomads
A new entrant that has disrupted the financial services industry is Transferwise. The service was put up in 2011 by Estonians who lived in the UK and saw the need to simplify the process of moving money from one currency to another.
So Transferwise sought to cut out the middleman to provide customers with lower transaction fees. Their claim to fame is having money transfers costing eight times cheaper than those of high street banks.
Customers can receive money in Australian dollars, British pound, and US dollars for free, while there is a fee of 0.35 to 2% for converting currencies.
One of their new services is the Transferwise borderless account. This enables one to get international bank details that can be used in over 30 countries with no fees. Users may also sign up for a Transferwise debit Mastercard to withdraw their money from an ATM.
For digital nomads who plan to go to Europe, one bank worth considering is N26. This German bank boasts of being Europe’s first mobile bank and provides coverage for customers in Eurozone countries except for Malta and Cyprus.
N26 has three types of bank accounts:
- A standard N26 account, which offers free ATM withdrawals in euros and free payments in any currency;
- An N26 Black Account with added features, like free withdrawals worldwide plus an insurance package; and
- The N26 metal membership option, which offers dedicated customer support and exclusive partner offers as well as the standard N26 Black features.
Monzo is a digital-only banking start-up that is challenging traditional banking services in the UK.
Monzo makes banking easy for travellers by providing card users with the ability to withdraw up to £200 every 30 days for free. Withdrawals beyond the free allowance are charged an additional 3%. They offer integration with ApplePay as well as budgeting tools, like the ability to set spending targets, see an account overview, or get notified about receipts.
What makes Monzo attractive to new customers is the ability to interact with other clients in the Monzo Community Forum. It’s a particularly robust online platform with lots of helpful community members, who can give advice about travelling to a particular country using your Monzo card.
Monese is an app-powered current account and money transfer service based in the UK. The app makes it easy for foreign nationals, freelancers, and expats to open an online account even without stepping into a bank.
Freelancers do not have minimum thresholds for bank transfers, as they recognize the invariable pay that comes with this kind of work.
Monese users get a debit card that lets them withdraw money from their account up to five times a month for free in over 200 countries worldwide. The card can also be used for contactless purchases of £30 or below.
One international money transfer service provider is Payoneer. The company specializes in digital payment services.
With Payoneer, users can receive payment from different sources in over 150 currencies. They are not charged for receiving payments from another Payoneer customer in US dollars, euros, British pound, and Japanese yen. However, for payments made through receiving accounts or directly from clients, expect a 1 to 3% charge.
Tracing its origins to as early as 1998, PayPal is one of the most recognizable digital payment services for those working remotely.
PayPal lets users send payment requests and invoices to clients from one platform. Once paid, users can transfer their funds from their PayPal online account to any Visa card or a local bank account.
PayPal is accepted in 200 countries and in over 10 million online stores.
The platform also has PayPal.me, which allows users to generate their unique PayPal link. Users can then provide this link through email, text message, chat, or business card to facilitate easier payments. Customers can then follow the link and input the amount that they would like to pay to the user.
With the wide options of international banks and payment platforms to choose from, it pays to know which fits you best.
Do its features cater to your needs?
When you check out a service, take a look at its offerings and see if they’re useful to you.
That said, keep your needs in mind in assessing an app and its features. Does it accept transactions for multiple currencies? Does it allow you to accept payments through different methods (credit card, bank transfer, PayPal, etc.)? Is it available in the locations you’re travelling to?
In the end, choose a platform that makes managing your finances easier as a digital nomad.
Is it safe and secure?
Anything involving your finances is a sensitive matter. Transacting with a bank or a payment platform means entrusting them with your money, so choose one that you trust.
An app that is safe and secure would ideally have the following:
- Good (and authentic) reviews
- A website with an SSL certificate
- A reputable developer
- Data access requests that do not go beyond what they actually need
Is it affordable for you?
When dealing with international banks and payment platforms, there will always be costs involved. As stated in our examples above, you will have to pay for transactions involving other currencies, for payments from non-members, for feature upgrades, and more.
In the end, it’s only a matter of deciding which is worth spending your money on. Don’t just settle for the cheapest option, but for the one that best suits your needs.
Indeed, technology has made the world a smaller place. Thanks to these international banks, you can go about your digital nomad lifestyle without worrying about lack of access to your funds — wherever you are in the world.