Are you willing to swap a bit of speed and convenience when banking online if it means the process is safer? There’s always some trade-off, but some banks are dealing with the problem better than others…
When it comes to financial fraud, consumer protection in the UK is fairly good.
The onus is on banks and other financial providers to create systems that will protect their customers. So, for those of us unlucky enough to become a fraud victim, our bank or lender should be there to pick up the bill.
Given the balance of responsibility, it’s no wonder that banks have invested heavily in creating securer online banking facilities in recent years.
Who enjoys jumping through security hoops?
But for every extra security check, there’s a trade-off in terms of customer convenience; something that some banks have dealt with better than others.
Almost all banks now require you to use a card reader or small key pad to generate a security number when you log in to your online banking facilities; a hoop that few people enjoy having to jump through.
HSBC, which has been my bank for more than 15 years, became the latest to introduce its own version of this technology earlier this year. So customers like me can no longer access our accounts online without the help of a small device that’s easy to lose and never with you at the moment you need it.
Unfortunately, unlike many of its rivals, HSBC has not provided customers with an alternative way to log in to their accounts when they don’t have their ‘Secure Key’ device to hand. Other banks who have adopted similar technology only insist on customers jumping through these extra hoops when they’re using their online banking facilities to carry out a transaction.
For those who simply want to check their balance and look at statements, it’s possible to log in using ordinary passwords and security questions.
Banks need to find a better balance
I wouldn’t mind about the inconvenience if I felt that HSBC’s new technology was lifting its online security to a new level. But, as our online banking security report in Which? magazine shows this month, HSBC remains average for banking security, with a score of just 58%, and still has plenty of room for improvement.
In fact, all the banks have a long way to go. Nationwide, which topped our tests, only achieved a score of 69%.
There is always a balance to be struck between security and convenience, but that balance has not been achieved quite yet. Internet banking has become increasingly inconvenient without becoming markedly more secure. It’s time for our banks to have a rethink.