Business & Economy Czech Republic Hungary News Poland Slovakia

The role of online banking in weathering the pandemic

Digital wallets and online banking have redefined the concept of financial services. Given the measures and limitations brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, people are relying on these even more. Online banking is one of the leading payment options in Europe, with high numbers in the markets coming from Central European countries in 2019.

In Central Europe, PayPal and Revolut have long been popular options for online transfers as remittance flows are vital in the region. While preferences for services may differ, these both facilitate relatively easy online transactions.

A logical alternative

Payment firms are encouraging contactless payments to limit interactions and movement outdoors and to curtail the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization also recommended using these online banking services early on, urging people to trust and use this technology whenever they can.

In Hungary, the Central Bank has even imposed quarantine measures on its forint bills. They are pausing circulation for two weeks as they shrink wrap and heat them in temperatures up to 170 degrees Celsius to disinfect them. The contactless limit for the entry of PINs has likewise been raised in the country.

Quick thinking

Popular fintech firm Revolut is being tested by the ongoing pandemic, however it has still carried through with its expansion into the US amid the crisis. PayPal has also enabled QR code-based mobile payments while temporarily waiving the standard seller transaction fees.

Users in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, and Slovenia will benefit from this banking service. With respect to social distancing measures, this is a sound option to mitigate contact while still allowing businesses to operate.

Beyond banking

Having a digital platform also gives users access to financial services beyond money transfers and peer-to-peer payments through investing in stocks or forex. Online stock trading allows you to buy and sell shares in a company, while forex has an even bigger trading volume affected by political and economic events.

Case in point, HSBC offers an investment platform through HSBC InvestDirect, an international share dealing service that is accessible in Poland. This provides the latest market news and alerts, necessary in such a volatile environment.

Planning ahead

This is crucial to jump-start economies given the state of the world economy right now. Robert Azevêdo, director general of the World Trade Organization says that governments will need to plan for the aftermath of this crisis, with global trade and international coordination becoming key players in this turnaround.

While concerns regarding cyber-security for these online banking services might be at the forefront right now, it is up to governing bodies and the companies themselves to tighten security measures to prevent it from exacerbating and becoming another major issue. With no clear picture as to when life will revert to the way it was prior to the pandemic, online banking might soon become the norm, even in countries with low adoption rates.