Years ago, at the moment when the internet was emerging and the potential for personal money transactions intersected, there was an immediate fear and mistrust among many people. “Is it secure; will I get ripped off?” was the chief concern that led significant numbers of the first generation of internet users to “play it safe” by refusing to engage in any e-commerce activities.
Of course, we have come a long way since the arrival of the Web, but cyber-crime stories of hackers, identity theft and malicious software (viruses, worms, trojans) still hit the headlines. So, while we may feel confident enough to make our everyday online purchases, is it wise to manage our personal banking activities online? And, if it is safe, why should I want to?
You can bank on it: Today, the banking industry, along with all other businesses that deal with money and sensitive information must adhere to stringent federal e-security guidelines. The science of information technology (IT) security has stepped in to protect you and those industries with secure networks, “firewall” filter management, password protection, data loss prevention and other advanced technologies. In such an unlikely “break-in” event, banks are required to restore any losses to their depositors. For this reason, banks carry private insurance against hacking and robbery.
How e-banking can benefit you: As always, your local bank branch is there for you to visit for any of your needs: applying for a loan, making a deposit or withdrawal, cashing a check, making a payment, transferring funds, or just having a question answered. However, it’s not always convenient to make that trip. It takes time out of your day, takes you away from other activities, burns gas if you drive and the bank’s hours of operation may not always coincide with your immediate needs.
With 24/7 e-banking services, you have a convenient, secure and easy-to-use alternative that fits your schedule and your needs without delay, and basic e-banking services are typically free. It’s not uncommon that individuals who try e-banking will switch to using it for the majority of their banking activities. Whether you’re at home, at your workplace, running errands, out of town, or even out of the country, you have the freedom to log in anytime from your desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone and conduct your banking activities in mere moments.
So, what sort of activities are included?
Business banking.: If you own or manage a business, you are probably accustomed to frequent visits to your bank branch. With e-banking, you can cut those visits significantly.
Typically for a small monthly fee, your bank can set up a business account e-management or cash management system to handle your payroll, make monthly bill payments, set up scheduled income from customers or renters, transfer funds, generate reports and alerts, and have your sensitive financial data stored securely. Most banks also offer remote deposit, an online check processing system, that allows you to bank from your desk. Use your business banker as a resource to learn what other cybersecurity and fraud prevention tools are available. This will help give you that extra peace of mind to allow you to focus more on your business.
Personal banking activities: Most activities that used to require regular trips to the bank are now available online. Manage your savings and checking accounts, check balances, set up lowbalance alerts, pay bills, pay a person, transfer funds, set up budgets, and even manage your investment and trust accounts.
It’s not complicated. User-friendly interactive features make your online visit an intuitive, speedy experience.
e-Statements: What is your checking balance? Has your loan or credit-card payment cleared? How much interest did you pay on your mortgage last year? What is the status of your line of credit or trust account? All this information and more is available anytime from anywhere.
Still worried about security? It has been reported that approximately 85 percent of fraud and identity theft cases are tied to stolen paper statements, bills or checks that traveled through direct mail and were taken from homes, businesses and trash.
Clutter, who needs it. With e-statements you can reduce the piles of paperwork that need filing or secure destruction. Typically, 18 months of your banking history is available for reference online. And, it’s “green” to go paperless.
Mobile banking with mobile deposit: Your smart phone is your direct link to banking services when you’re on the go. By downloading your bank’s free mobile application (app), you can set up account alerts, transfer money, pay bills, deposit a check, check balances, find a bank location near you and more.
Do yourself a service: Visit your bank’s website to learn about their e-banking services. Get started and go at your own speed. Soon, you’ll be comfortable using their online features. So, enjoy! Your life just got a little easier.
Samantha Olson is a branch operations supervisor with AbbyBank