Pros and Cons of Online Banking (Internet Bank Accounts)
What is Online Banking?
Internet or e-banking means managing your bank account online. When you open an online account, you undergo the same security checks as you would for a high street branch, but all (or almost all) of your dealings with the bank are carried out via the internet.
For people who are internet savvy, switching to online banking is a no-brainer. You can access your account 24/7 making it easy to move your money, check your balance, even talk to the bank via online chat. If you find it hard to get to a physical branch because you work long hours, then using internet banking could be a life-saver.
Pros and Cons of Internet Banking
Convenience: open 24/7
You check your finances way too often!
Environmentally friendly: saves paper
No paper trail of transactions
Saves time: no parking issues
No face-to-face contact
Saves money: better interest rates
Credit scoring may be tighter
Several layers of security
The Basics of Online Banking
Internet Banking is Open 24/7
If you are working full time or do not drive, it can be difficult to get to a bank during opening hours. Or perhaps you live out of town in a rural isolated settlement? The big advantage of online banking is that you can access it wherever you have an internet connection. There are no time restrictions as an internet “branch” is always open for business.
I find checking my bank balance becomes addictive. I glance hopefully at my cellphone or laptop every few minutes for unexpected payments. (There never are any but I keep looking anyway.)
Save Paper and Save Trees
You can reduce the amount of paper you use by switching to e-bills. Chances are you will also save money by paying this way too. Utility companies and others often give a discount if you operate your account online. They save postage, paper and staff time by sending out accounts electronically. Some of these savings are passed to their customers. You can feel good about banking online; you are helping to save the planet and saving money at the same time.
You can store data (information) at home on a USB stick or keep it in a virtual environment in the “cloud”. This can be easily accessed should you need to produce records for tax purposes.
Tax authorities require you to keep accounts for at least the last 7 years. Being old school, I feel happier having a paper copy of my records. I am trying to get into the habit of backing up data regularly, so as not to delete it accidently. For the time being I still like the reassurance of printing out bank statements regularly.
Internet banking means all transactions are carried out in the comfort of your own home. You do not have to search for a parking space, battle rush-hour traffic or waste time in a queue for a busy bank teller. The time you save by using online banking could be spent with your family or doing a hobby.
There is no face-to-face contact with bank staff when you use an online account. You may miss the personal attention that comes with a high street branch.
To withdraw physical notes and coins you will need to use an ATM or visit a branch in person. Otherwise all your transactions will have to be e-payments.
Online banks have lower overheads than those with a traditional branch network. They are thus able to offer better interest rates to both savers and borrowers compared to competitors.
If you are a borrower, you can use email or text reminders to stop your account going overdrawn. Taking prompt action on receipt of an alert can prevent overdraft charges arising.
You can also save money by using online bill-pay rather than paying accounts by check.
Internet banks cherry-pick who they lend to. Credit scoring of potential borrowers is tighter. Only those who are a good credit risk are able to benefit from the lower interest rates on offer.
Online Data Security is Crucial
Banks have secure systems in place to protect your personal information. All banks are aware of the potential for accounts to be hacked. They have security checks to prevent fraudsters accessing your money. They use a minimum of a 2-step log-in and many banks use 3 or 4-step log-in process. These log-in steps consist of some or all of the following:
A password (which only you know and should be changed regularly)
A text to your phone with a one-time password
Answer a security question
A card-reader security device (in which you place your bank card to obtain a one-off code to enter online)
Scammers know that the weak link in the security chain is you, the customer. They may call pretending to be your bank and ask you for log-in information. Your internet bank will never do this.
NatWest Bank's Top Tips to Stay Safe Online
- The best way to protect yourself from fraud is to be aware.
- Never disclose your full Online Banking PIN or password.
- Never disclose card reader codes over the phone under any circumstances.
- Never transfer money from your account after being instructed to do so.
- Never allow remote access your computer when someone calls you unexpectedly."
How to Bank Safely Online
Use of Internet Banking Continues to Rise
In UK, online banking is now used by the majority of account holders. The proportion of people using internet banking has risen from 30% in 2007 to 60% in 2016.
In US, the figures are similar. Online banking penetration was 50% in 2013 and is expected to exceed 60% by 2018.
(Statistics from statistica.com)
Is E-Banking the Same as Internet and Online Banking?
Internet and online banking as terms used to describe a method that banks use to connect to their customers. Other channels would be postal banking, phone banking, and branch (in person) banking.
Traditional banks started with high street branches and then expanded into the internet to offer customers online access to their accounts. E-banks have taken this one step further and carry out all customer communication and account transactions via the internet. They do not have a physical branch presence.
E-banks have much lower overheads than old-fashioned banks. They do not need to maintain a network of high street buildings. They also employ fewer staff. They may pass these savings on to customers by offering them lower account charges.