Banks: do pick & choose

Posted: 11 September 2018 in Business Systems, Cultural
Tags: , , ,

Future-of-banking“I’ll be informing our Fraud Department about you” said the bank call centre to me.
“You’ll be in breach of our Terms & Conditions” said another.
Welcome to the world of bank switching.

They say we change banks less often that we change spouses.  For me so far: banks 4, wives 1.  I started off life with Oldlands Bank Ltd.  Then off to Northshires Building Society.  Followed by Widget International Offset Mortgages.  Now Nu Bank PLC.

I was happy with Widget Offset.  But the mortgage was paid and The Term was now expired, so they said I had to go, mumbling something about FRS or BoE.  Pity.  So after reading lots of reviews and considering what I really needed, it was off to Nu Bank. But…

It has been a saga
But it has been a song-and-dance.  This is my fourth time moving bank but friends….. the times have changed.  It is much more complex now.  The legal and social assumptions have changed.  This blog will unpack it (just a little little little).

Once upon a time, I walked into a branch of Oldlands Bank with my dad and opened an account.  Now you have to consider:

  1. Branches (need them? And are any within 100 miles?)
  2. Phone (please remember your memorable password, passcode, date, your blood type, etc.
  3. Online banking on PC. Login details (as above but different), security thingie
  4. App banking. “Sir, it’s so much easier to login in with.” (Mr Thief will be delighted)
  5. Text banking (does this meaning anything? 10Sep at 18:10 IJKD £21.53- * 11Sep at 12:10 GETU £41.99+)

Joint Account?
With Widget International I had a joint account with my wife and one set of log in details.  My wife would use those very same login in details to do business.  Oh no, not now.  We might share DNA, but can no longer passwords.  “Breach of Terms & Conditions”.  “Alert The Fraud Department”.  We had to have separate logins, passwords, and security thingies.  The so called explanation was about having own “portals” to manage personal private financial products like ISAs.

The real reason is that banks are pushing us away from the old Joint Accounts.  And for two reasons.  Firstly, because with the fluid state of domestic relations, divorce and cohabitation breakups.  Folk forget that joint account holders are jointly and severally liable.  SO: if “darling” does a bunk and empties the joint bank account leaving you with £5,000 of overdraft – you are lumbered with in, not them.

The second reason is that with individual login IDs, it is easier for the banks to pin down responsibility and so ensure you are personally responsible for security slips and your account being, say £2,517.94 lighter.

Internet Theft ConceptWith Widget International, our cards had not yet switched over to Contact-less.  Nu bank automatically sent them to us.  When queried they pressed us to keep them.  “Are you telling me I have absolutely no choice?”  “No sir, we can send non-contactless.”

There is a higher security risk with contact-less cards.  Research shows that the use of remote card readers and cloning has not materialised as expected.  Theft and illegitimate use has been the biggest issue, especially as contact-less paying does not lend itself to regular close monitoring.  And that is the bigger issue with contact less payments.

Why?  Because it serves retailers well, through cheaper point-of-sales costs.  It also serves retailers as we spend more readily with contact-less.  A survey of 2000 users found 59% reported not having to hand cash over meant they spent more.  72% said contact less and mobile payments increased impulse purchases.  “it didn’t feel like real money, another study of Cardiff students said.

Use contact-less if it suits you.  But beware – it suites contemporary consumerism too.

Switching and more
The Switching Service only partially worked, as with Widget International, it was an offset account, not a current account.  Not everything could go across automatically.  That meant phoning payroll. They cheerily told me “Oh, we’re in the Jurassic period here.  You’ll have to put that in writing”.  His ready admission rather cheered me.

And as for credit cards – 27 pages of small print to deal with.  Per card, too.

We have not quite come to an end of the process.  We are sticking with Nu Bank PLC.  Asking around it is clear to me that what is asked for – is asked of others too.

Why blog this then?  The issues to consider are not trivial:

  • The decline of the joint account is following the demise of joint family lives
  • The battery of security hurdles is partly to protect us. But also moves more of the weight of responsibility from the banks, onto each of us.
  • Contact-less? A security risk.  But the bigger threat is its boost to consumer addiction.

These are changing times for changing banks.  Just pick and choose the bits that suite you only.

Know what you want, and say “No” to the bits you don’t.



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