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No email, no banking
Written in Bangkok and despatched by wi-fi from one of what seems to be an almost infinite number of free wi-fi service providers here - this time a coffee shop.
What would you think of an international company or organisation that had no facility to send or receive emails? Personally I try to avoid doing business with all such organisations and especially those which tell me they only use fax for security reasons.
Worse still are those who will only communicate by letter on security grounds - I avoid working with this group of companies too. What century are these folks in?
You might suppose that no email equates to some small, second-rate, back-street, fly-by-night operation. But - surprise, surprise - it seems the majority of big EU and international banks have no email facility as a policy. Can you imagine a bank with no email? It seems as unlikely as a pub with no beer!
So here I am in Bangkok with a friend trying to sort out a financial issue with a major bank in the EU and I have to deal with a communication turnaround of about one week by letter. They don't seem to be able to cope with fax, let alone email - and all important telephone calls have to be validated by letter later. I'm sure you get the picture - frustration on a stick!
The reality of security risk (in ascending order) actually goes like this: email, fax, letter - with email being the most secure. And yet the perception of the retrograde thinkers is precisely the reverse. Written and printed material is so easy to intercept, so easy to fake, it beggars belief that anyone still persists in this Dickensian activity. 'Pass me another quill pen, this one is blunt!'
How long before these and other institutions get with the programme, or better still, fold altogether? Judging by the attitudes of the young and increasingly the older customers, I'd say less than 10 years before they will be in serious trouble. Modern life demands modern technology. People have no choice and neither do banks and companies. The customers will vote with their keyboards!
And so the next step for me is to close down this EU-based international bank account and move all the assets and services to one providing email access.