How can I get to grips with online banking?

Money
23 March 2016
Online banking offers many conveniences and can save a lot of time compared to making a trip to the bank or building society. We offer some tips to help the uninitiated get started.

Online banking is fast becoming the default way for people to manage their finances and it brings many benefits. 

Simple transactions can be carried out without having to make a trip to a bricks and mortar bank or waiting in a phone queue for a long time, only to be switched to another department and wait still longer. 

Instead, all that is required for many online banking functions is to simply log on to the internet and connect to the bank's secure website with some personal details. 

Setting up

Setting up varies from provider to provider. Some simply require you to fill in a form and confirm your details online, while others will offer you more information if you ask in a branch. 

If you are used to going to your branch, it might be worth asking there, so you have a comfortable and familiar starting point for the transition. 

Choosing passwords

Choosing strong passwords when setting up your account is vital. Many banks use several passwords anyway, one of which will be the same Pin number you use for your debit card. 

Be careful to use a random selection of lower and upper case letters and numbers. Some software is able to guess passwords using combinations of dictionary words, so these are best avoided. 

If you have to write the password down to remember it, be sure to keep it in a very safe place you won't forget about. 

Are the security measures good enough?

The majority of online banking services offered by major providers such as Barclays and NatWest have very strong security measures in place. 

However, it is still a good idea to do your bit and make sure your own internet connection is secure before using online banking. 

Using an unprotected wireless hotspot such as those offered in hotels or at airports isn't advisable. With your own personal connection at home, you can make sure you have installed the relevant security features such as antivirus software and a firewall. 

New technology

Some people still assume that the internet and its related benefits - including online banking - are largely the preserve of younger generations. This is simply not the case. 

Indeed, the British Banking Association (BBA) carried out a study that found senior citizens are making a major contribution to the popularity of internet finance, with around 2.3 million people between the ages of 70 and 100 banking online. 

BBA chief executive officer Anthony Browne said this success is enhanced by the availability of banking on smartphones and media tablets like the Apple iPad. 

"Customers of all ages like the fact that they can now make payments, check balances and do other banking tasks from the comfort of their home without trudging into town," he commented. "It's precisely because these technologies are so popular with people of all ages that banks are investing so heavily in them."

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