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Bank of America: the best electronic bank in the world?

Interesting research from Keynote Systems
has just been released evaluating website experiences for online
banking services in the US and the UK.  The researchers evaluate all
sorts of stuff from load handling, response times, average site
downtime, brand impact, ease of customer acquisition, customer
satisfaction, design and organisation, site impact, ease of navigation
and more.

According to Keynote, the best American bank website is
Bank of America’s … well, that makes sense doesn’t it as Bank of
America should be the best bank of America shouldn’t it?  In reality,
it is rated the best website because, in clearly measurable performance
metrics, they were consistently rated as the best performing website
throughout 2007, and tops for customer experience and reliability*.
Bank of America were closely followed up by Citi, Chase and WaMu.   

my own perspective, the study substantiates the reasons for Bank of America being the most effective website in gaining users.  For example, George Tubin of
TowerGroup performed a study of American banking sites in 2004 and
discovered that Bank of America had 11 million active internet banking
users which, back then, was double the number of Wells Fargo’s online
bank customers, and equivalent to the users of Chase, Citi, Wachovia,
WaMu and US Bancorp combined.

Three years later, and NetBanker’s Jim Breune reports
that Bank of America’s active users have doubled from 11 million in
June 2004 to 22.8 million in October 2007.  This makes the Bank of
America’s web service the world’s largest online bank service by
usage.  Their customer accounts grew 11% year-on-year, equivalent to
over 2 million new accounts a year.

It’s also demonstrating Bank of America’s commitment to vision that they developed a mobile banking platform in February 2007, and released it at the end of August.  By
November, 500,000 customers had signed up for the service, about 2.5%
of their total online banking customer base.

For all these
reasons, they should get the award for the best electronic banking
service in the world … except for one thing.  Is it secure?

Very interesting note by Chris Soghoian
of CNET News demonstrating that Bank of America’s use of two-factor
authentication, a rebadged version of the Passkey system, is extremely
vulnerable to man-in-the-middle phishing attacks:

multiple occasions in 2005 and 2006, security researchers raised the
alarm regarding the false promises of two-factor authentication, and in
particular, Bank of America’s SiteKey system.

Ah well, can’t win them all.   

in the UK, Lloyds TSB get the honours, whilst HSBC and Barclays are
rated the least effective.  Find out more by downloading the UK reports


* I couldn’t help but notice that Keynote rated Bank of America the worst for performance in their weekly rankings over the Christmas period … must have been sipping the mulled wine I guess.

p.s. if you like personal rants, then fellow blogger Tom Groenfeldt’s story of the truly domestic focus of most banks – Bank of America and Barclays Bank in this case – is worth a read

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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