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Banks are pushing their customers to use online banking.

They claimed to encourage the customers to use online banking as much as possible.

Why do banks insist on customers using online internet banking?

Banks claimed with the advancement of technology, and more and more people are internet savvy, it is about time online internet banking be the focus and future of banking.

Even government is encouraging all business entities to go online and do things online, so the banks are taking the cue to do so.

The banks claim by doing business online, they can reap the following benefits:

1. Cost savings.

The banks claim it is the most cost savings invention for the banking industry.

With online banking, the banks require less physical branches, which mean hiring less bank staffs to man the branches.

So there will be huge saving on staffs cost, rental of branches, utility, and other cost incidental to operating a branch

2. More efficient

With internet banking, the operation of the bank is more efficient, as more transactions can be done at anyone time, no like physical banking, a teller can only serve a customer at one time and it may take longer to complete the transactions,

3. Saving the hazard of long queue in the branches of the banks.

With physical branches, sometimes there are long queue as people wait to be served by the counters, especially when one customer has a lot of transactions, or need to seek more clarification, it will take up longer time.

Also, queue theory applies and management has to decide whether single line or lining up at each counter.

With the pandemic ravaging, physical present may not be a good idea.

4. Paperless, save the environment.

Online banking tend to use fewer papers, as customers do their banking requirement online and documents are saved in soft copy file and file away in their respective devices.

Less paper work supposedly will use fewer papers and to certain extent, less cutting of trees. And no need to send out monthly paper statements.

5. Easier for the customers to check their bank balances and banking need.

Customers can check their bank status any time with internet online banking, they are not able to do so if it is a physical banks, as there will be subject to banking hours.

If the customers want to do any banking transactions, they can do so even at mid night if the needs arise.

However, this is something which he can not do with physical banking system, and he has to wait for the next day.

6. no need for the customer to make a trip to the bank as it can be done online.

Making a trip to the bank is a headache, when you consider the traffic and the need to look for parking space.

Somehow, where there is a bank branch, the parking slots are not readily available.

Making trip to bank is always a hazard, and inconvenient for some people, especially when you think of the need to queue up for your turn to see the teller.

7. More convenient for the customers!!

Frankly speaking, online banking is quite convenient if you are tech savvy and can not live without accessing to internet.

You can do it at home in your cosy home environment, it looks very good and efficient.

8. Banking transactions can be done anytime, even at night, no need to rush to bank in day time.

With internet banking, if you need to do an urgent banking transaction at night, you can do so easily, no need to wait until the next day for the bank to open.

Likewise, you can do it globally wherever you are, even you are not in the home country, you can still carry out the necessary transactions.

Despite all these so called benefits and advantages of having online internet banking, what are the cons of it?

1. Lack of human approach.

This is the main complaint about online banking, no more human touch.

Lacking of human interaction, mean you do not have a banking relationship manager to deal with, and you can not build up a good rapport with the bank officers at all.

2. Can not do cash deposit of money.

If you have hard cash to be deposited, you can not do so with internet banking, still you need to go to the nearest ATM or the bank branch to do so.

3. Safety of the internet.

Is it safe to use online banking? safety and security of it is questionable, as it involved two parts.

One is whether your device, be it your mobile phone, is safe, the other issue is whether the bank online system is safe and secure.

Nowadays no one dares to say their computer systems are safe and 100% secured.

The moment one company claims its computer system and network is safe, the hackers will treat it as a challenge to hack the system.

Some hackers like to do it just to satisfy their urge to hack and prove how good they are in breaking into a system.

Of course there are some who hack in order to scam other people's money.

4. Not every one is tech savvy especially the elderly.

Older generations are having problem to understand how to use the mobile phone for its simple function like sending messages and making phone calls.

with the smart phones nowadays, majority of the phone are touch screen based, not like last time button, more difficult for senior citizens to use.

And you expect the older generations to know how to do banking transaction online?

They do not even know how to surf the net for information.

Some may be able to learn, but do they know what they can click and what they can not click?

Do they know whether the site they enter is genuine or fictitious site?

After listing the pros and cons of internet banking above

Let's discuss the topic - Are the banks doing the right things to push for digital banking?

With the recent cases of scams involving one of the banks in Singapore.

In which about 470 customers lost more than SGD $ 9 million in the month of December alone.

Now people have second thought whether the banks are doing the right things to push for digital banking,  and totally discard physical banking transactions.

It was reported that the scams happened when the customers of the bank received SMSes.

Purportedly from the bank informing customers of illegal transactions, customers need to verify by clicking the links provided in the same SMSes.

Once the customer clicked on the link, that is the end of their money in the bank.

Without knowing the links which are fraudulent and linked to a fake banking website, the unsuspecting customers click on the link.

The scammers easily secure the requirement login particulars of the customers, and they will then go to the real bank website to carry out the necessary transactions such as:

  • changing the login password.
  • amend the withdrawing limit per transaction.
  • change the requirement of one time password via SMS,
  • direct the notification to their own phones or devices.

So is it the right move?

What have the banks done in order to make internet banking a smooth and trouble free procedure and system?

1. Hot line number

Has anyone tried to call the bank on its hot line and get to speak with a human straight away?

One bank in Singapore use some so called latest technology, the same as the one used in APPLE phone on the siri robots.

And it was so frustrating especially when you can not even get pass this stage,  as the machine does not seem to understand what you said.

I encountered another occasion when you call the bank, it starts with - for English, please press 1, so you do.

Then it starts giving you all the options but not in numerical orders.

So after you press the number, before it gives you more option, it starts selling you and encouraging you to use their app and telling you how efficient is their app.

After listening to the advantages of using the app, then it tells you the option.

You then press the option, once again, you have to listen to how great is their app and so on.

After that it says all our operators are engaged at the moment, you can call back some other time or go to our website and perform the transaction you want to do!!!!.

So when you feel that you have been scammed and you want to contact the bank immediately, facing with the machine talking all the times and not able to speak with a human, how to contact the bank?

as reported in the news, in the recent cases, the bank advised its customers to contact the bank immediately.

I wonder they know how hard it is to talk to the human in the bank by calling the hot line they have.

2. Token

At one time, Banks wanted to do away with the physical tokens and pushing customers to use the app.

With the recent cases in December 2021, banks have decided to allow the customers to continue using the token.

3. OTP or One Time Password.

The bank at one time wanted to do away with this One Time Password, and pushing bank customers to use the app for the access to the banking requirement. However, with the recent frequent cases of scams, they have decided to stick to this OTP for the time being.

However, does this solve the scam problem?

Customers now are not that confident to receive any SMSes from the banks, as they are not sure the messages they received are genuine or not.

What have the banks advised the customers?

1. Do not click on any links in the short messages .

Banks claimed the short messages they sent do not have any links attached at all.

So in other words, if you receive any short messages from the banks with link attached, it is a fake message, though it may look like the messages are from the banks.

2. Do not give any information about your details on banking to anyone.

This instruction is rather difficult to comprehend, when you login to the bank website, do you provide the information? as you are being prompted to do so.

Are you sure the website you access is the real website of the bank?

how do you differentiate the real and the fake website?

Perhaps you may want to use the tools available to check on any fake website or do some checks in the internet.

The best way to do so is to key in the URL of the bank directly, instead of just click on the link provided.

3. Call the bank hot lines to verify.

As I mentioned earlier, some hot lines provided by the banks are not that easily accessible.

Unless you have the patient and in good mood to listen to all the sales pitches or talking to robot, it is better you just make a trip to the bank and talk to the human directly.

Even that again may not be possible as the staff may direct you to go online, it seems that is about the job function of the staffs of the banks nowadays, to tell customers to go online to do banking transactions.

Now what can the banks and authority do? or should do?

1. Bank domain.

It is about time all the governments in the world work together to regulate the registration of domain names in world of internet.

Currently, you can register a domain quite similar to the one you want to scam.

For example, ABC Bank.com once you register as the bank domain, another person can register one almost similar to it such as ABC. Bank.com

for those who are not cautious and alert, they will think it is the same.

The relevant parties may have to agree in order to stop this type of scam.

Those people who are trying to do some fraudulent thing with ill intention, will definitely make use of this.

Therefore, it is important that certain domain can not have similar name at all, regardless of you put in a coma, a hyphen, or whatever.

2. Tracing of the transactions.

There should be electronic trails of the transactions, the money trails from the bank where the victim's money was transferred from, to the bank where the money was transferred.

If the money was then further moved to another bank account, and so on, sometimes, it could be moving to multiples destinations so as to avoid detection.

Or making it difficult for authorities to trace the eventual destination of the fund, especially when the scammers move the funds all over the world.

And unless the investigators are very patient to follow the money trails, the recovery of the fund is almost equal to zero.

The recovery of the fund is more difficult when it is going through some offshore heaven, or countries which have very lax monitoring and anti money laundering enforcement.

3. Real Hotline

it is about time the government through its central bank ensure all the banks really have some human manning the hot line instead of trying to automate the phone answering system and saving cost.

The response time of answering the phone and the frustration of the customers calling the banks at time of emergency, will determine whether the scammed money can be recovered or not.

4. Timing of transfer

Anyone noticed whenever your transfer money to your account, the bank will tell you it will take a day or two to clear?

Meaning, you can not use the money immediately.

However, when you transfer the money out of your account, it seems to deduct from your account immediately!!.

Therefore, actually the recent cases of the phishing scams can be easily thwarted if the bank has the system in place.

Such as when money is transferred out of the bank, it will take one day or two or wait for the account owner to confirm whether he did the transfer.

The bank can ask the customer to go down to the bank to verify since nowadays, we can not trust the phone on the other end of the line is really from the bank or not.

In Summary

In the meantime, those who want to learn more how to know more about phishing SMS, you may want to go HERE to learn more about it.

You may also want to do more research on this.

Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Association of Banks have just announced some measures to curb the SMS phishing scams.

You can read more about that HERE