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Yes, this is the 21st Century

Here’s a shocker.

I blog all the time about social media.

We all love Facebook, with 500 million people in their community.

We love to twitter via tweetdecks 24*7 on our iPhones and Androids.

We Google, Amazon and PayPal.

The internet is pervasive.

It is so pervasive that the country is going to ban paper, with the Payments Council looking for an end-date for the cheque by 2018.

We can pay in real-time with Faster Payments every day.

Visa can clear a payment through a worldwide network in just over a second of time.

That’s via all the bank and payments infrastructures globally to clear and authenticate the payment.

All in just a second.

Yes, it’s the 21st century.

So I meet my bank manager and tell him that the landline telephone number they have on my account is wrong.

It’s my old office number.

I didn’t even know they had it, but they need it to authorise a payment via telephone, as proof that it’s me, and I couldn’t remember the old number.

After all, it’s years since I moved from that office.

I just didn't realise they had it on my account.

Or that they would try to use it to authenticate a payment.

So I tell him my new number.

Bish-bash-bosh, should be all done and dusted.

A week later, this arrives in the post:


It has a double A4 form with it for changing the address:

Change of address

I ring the bank and ask them what that’s all about.

“Oh”, they said, “you want to change your telephone number.”

“Yes”, I reply, “I gave it to my relationship manager.”

“Oh”, they said, “well he asked us to send you the form.”

“Well”, I reply, “do I have to fill it all in or can I do this online?”

“Oh”, they said, “just fill in the bit about the telephone number and then follow the instructions.”

The instructions are on the other A4 sheet:

What to do

Yep, this is the 21st century.

On a more serious note, the consumer magazine Which? issued news that banks don't inform customers of interest rate changes on their loans and savings.

The BBA responded by saying:

“If all customers were to be notified of all changes to their interest rates – as Which has suggested – the costs to the environment, the economy, to banks and ultimately to customers would be considerable:

  • around 13.5 million personal letters would have to be sent for each rate change;
  • in 2008, when there were five negative base rate movements, this would have generated 67.5 million letters;
  • the cost to the banking industry would be around 50 pence per letter (total: £33.75 million) and to the environment would be some 575 trees.”



About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.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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  • Security level 2 internet transactions used to be validated by typing a pin code issued from a key card, previously supplied to the customers.
    Some “highly” intelligent people decided that this was insufficiently secured and imagined that the PIN instead of being issued from such key card, should be sent by the bank, at the time of validating the transaction, to the cell phone or e-mail of the customer.
    Explanation was that the key card could be copied, lost, or stolen.
    I don’t know about you, but I believe there are a lot more chances that a cell phone gets stolen than a piece of plastic with some letters and numbers that in any case can not be used if one is not logged-in to the right bank account.
    Taking into account all information that can be stored on a cell phone in the note pad (including a/c n°, pin, etc…) how can the bank be really sure that the person who is logged-in is the customer and the cell phone has not been “borrowed” or stolen?
    Has security (apparently enforced by the European banking community) really improved ? Not sure, but the trouble has undoubtedly increased for the final customers.
    1. What happens if a transaction is validated while the cell phone has been reported stolen to the phone company but the bank has not been advised? Who will be held responsible for possible fraudulent transactions ?
    2. If filling in an A4 sheet is required to simply confirm a phone number, what documentation will be needed to report a stolen cell phone to the bank?
    On the one hand, yes we are in the 21st century but on the other had, some areas of the banks are still using middle-age procedures. What comment can we make on security measures that obviously increase trouble to the customers but adds little additional security ?