It seems that, in this digital age, we can do pretty much anything with the help of a computer. From doing the weekly shop to paying the rent, everything just got easier to deal with. When online banking first came around, many people swore never to use it, as they were concerned about the potential for fraud.
However, as time has gone on, the internet and online banking in particular has proven itself to be a fairly trustworthy and extremely convenient way of managing our money. These days most people undertake some financial transactions online, whether it is paying for goods or complete online money management. But is our trust in the world of online banking well placed, or should we be more cautious about how we take care of our cash?
The rise of online banking
Just last year it was revealed that more people accessed the internet to deal with their personal banking than went on the computer to access Facebook. As a marker of how online banking has risen in popularity, this is a pretty impressive statistic and testament to how popular doing business online has become.
The reason for this is due to the convenience of managing money online. Users can check their balances, transfer money, pay bills and set up direct debits all from the comfort of their own home and at any time of the day. With many banks now launching apps for various smartphones and other mobile devices, many users can also do any of these things from anywhere in the world. MoneySupermarket online banking information can tell you more about which services are offered by which banks.
In terms of mobile banking, there is a move towards even greater smartphone integration with our bank accounts, as mobile app developers work towards bringing us mobile payment services. Similar to 'contactless' card technology, this has the potential to remove the need for credit cards altogether, using instead a transmission from the phone to tell the retailer where to charge the bill.
Most online banking services have stringent checks in place to avoid fraud and other security problems. Passwords, pin numbers and even card readers are all required by most banks to prevent fraud. However, despite all the efforts of the banks to protect us, there are still ways our security could be compromised if we aren't careful enough.
Emails sent to our computers may offer interesting attachments, claiming to be photos of us, free music downloads or the chance to win an iPad. Some of these emails have the potential to install a virus on our computer that would log all our passwords and send them off to the originator, enabling them to gain access to our online bank. Avoid this by making sure your PC is well protected with up to date anti-virus software and never open anything that looks suspicious.
Another risk to be aware of is the phishing email. This is usually a persuasive email from our bank that encourages us to reveal personal information. These are becoming very sophisticated with criminals using logos and official fonts to increase their appeal. Remember, banks will never ask for sensitive information and will never address you as 'Dear Customer'.
All in all, whilst online banking does carry some risks, these are no greater than the risks posed in the real world. As long as we treat our online bank account with the same caution as we would our banking activities in the real world, then we have very little to worry about.