A year ago, I talked about how unusable the Xiring terminals were and have seen loads of blogs and commentaries about how impractical these terminals are in everyday life since then.
Thank goodness Visa has now integrated one-time passwords into their cards. Meanwhile, I'm stuck with UK banks who insist that we use these darned things everytime we use internet banking.
So here's an interesting update about these terminals and I've called this "Part One" as I'm sure I'll have a few more parts to this series of how not to do internet banking or, if you prefer, Internet Banking by Dummies.
Just by way of background, I now have five Xiring terminals: one
for my own account, one for the business account, one for the joint account, and
two for my credit and debit cards.
The business account proves to be the most interesting.
This is because the bank sent me a card explicitly to use with the terminal, rather than my existing cards.
The card arrived some weeks before
they sent the terminal, and it just said "Internet Banking from ABC Bank", so I
threw it away thinking it was just an advert for online banking.
As it turned out, it is the card to use explicitly with my business account Xiring terminal, which was still to arrive ... not an advert for Internet Banking from ABC Bank at all.
When the terminal did arrive, I still did not think about it
much. After all, how often would I need to use it? Then I realised this little sucker has a lot of power, as the bank has made the terminal the main and only way to create and authorise new payments
Every time I want to make a payment, it demands that I use the terminal's one-time password generator and,
because I threw that silly advertising card away, I cannot make payments!
So I’ll try and keep the story as short as possible, but
here’s what happened when I rang my business account relationship manager to
sort it out.
First of all, he joined me in a good moan about the
terminals, after all we are British. After a whinge, he said he’d send me a Business MasterCard. That should do the job.
I was a little concerned as this card has a fee of £32 per
year, which would be of little interest to me as I do not use or need a
MasterCard on the Business Account.
He promised that he would waive the fees.
Sure enough, the card arrived and a fee of £32 was taken from
my account. So I called my relationship
manager, who apologised and got the fee reimbursed as promised.
I now have a MasterCard I do not need that has been issued
purely so that I can process internet banking transactions.
The next time I get to set up a new payments mandate, the system
wants my one-time password generated so I enter my new Business MasterCard in the
Xiring terminal … and it says ‘wrong card’.
I try it in all five Xiring terminals, but none of them like
I then check the number on the card with the number on the
internet banking service, and they don’t match. Aha, the card has not been set up with the account.
It’s after six o’clock, so I wait till the following morning
and call my relationship manager.
He’s on answerphone and says, “If you need help, please call
my Support Team”, so I ring his Support Team.
“Good morning”, says Johnny in the Support Team. “How can I help?”
I explain that I cannot set up a payments mandate – in this
case a standing order, where the customer creates a regular payment schedule – because
the card I have does not work with the Xiring terminal.
“Well”, he says, “I’m sure our Business Card Services can
sort this out for you. Here’s their
So I ring the Business Card Services number, and explain
that I’m trying to use the internet banking service for the creation of a
standing order mandate, but the card cannot be read by the Xiring terminal.
“Oh sorry sir”, says the nice Customer Service
Representative (CSR), “but that’s internet banking, not card services. Here’s their number and you need to talk with
Growling starts to rumble from my stomach … oh no, it’s my
throat. But it’s ok, I’m calm.
I ring the internet banking number and it’s the wrong number.
Oh well, back to square one. I ring my relationship manager’s Support Team again.
“Hi again, I’ve just telephoned Business Card Services who
tell me it’s the Internet Bank’s issue. But she gave me the wrong number”, I say.
“No problem sir,” says helpful Johnny in the Support Team, “I
can give you their number”.
“Actually”, I interrupt, “I don’t need to do this. I only want to set up a standing order
mandate so why don’t you do that for me instead?”
“Ah”, says Johnny, “there’s a problem with that Mr.
Skinner. I can cancel standing orders
and direct debits, but I can’t set them up.”
“Pardon?” I ask.
“Well, I used to be able to set up standing orders sir, but
the Head Office didn’t like that so now only they can do this service”, Johnny
“What?” I start feeling a little John Cleese-ish.
“Sorry”, says Johnny.
“So the Support Team cannot support anyone, is that what you’re
“Not really sir”, pleads Johnny, “because I can help you
with this question.”
“OK. What do you
“Well”, says Johnny sounding remarkably confident, “why don’t
you just pop down to the branch and sign the standing order mandate down there,
then they can process it for you. I know
that works. Good old paper process and
My throat, stomach and body growls, rumbles and shakes into
an explosion of frustration.
“Johnny”, I fume, “the branch is half an hour’s drive from
my house. I’m not wasting two hours on a
round trip just to set up a standing order mandate that should have taken me
two minutes online. Now find someone who
can sort this out.”
“Yessir!” says the erstwhile Johnny, who puts me through to
the inner sanctum of the bank.
This department does not even have a name, just the letter “Q”. It sounds very James Bond, but I think “Q” is
the department for customers with Questions that the front-line staff and Support Teams cannot
“Yes Mr. Skinner”, says a charming lady’s voice, “I believe
you need to set up a standing order mandate. Let me do that for you.”
And there you have it.
An hour of my morning wasted in frustration due to these new
Mind you, thanks to Judi Dench in Department Q, I discovered
the root of the problem was throwing away the online banking card I received originally
as, unlike personal banking, the business accounts only work with these
They do not work with debit cards, credit cards or any other
Just their pure and exclusive business banking online cards.
So I didn’t need the new Business MasterCard after all.
Oh, how the internet has made life so much easier and oh,
how some banks just don’t get it.
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...