Online Banking Services: Benefits and Risks

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13th Dec 2019 Dissertation Reference this

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Internet banking

ABSTRACT

Internet banking started in 80s and nowadays it’s considered globally as an essential need of today’s modern banking facilities. The debate about moving secure investment and banking transaction to the web is indeed over because they are already in progress but analysis of the dimensions of this revolution are far from complete.

This research is done to reveal the views/perceptions of today’s modern day customers about online banking. The main objectives were (a) customer’s perceptions of the benefits of online banking (b) customers perceptions of the risks/the issues/threats/problems associated with the online banking. The outcome of the study may help the higher management of banks to plan and implement more secure and effective online banking services.

The researcher collected the primary data through questionnaires and then data was analyzed through frequency analysis and mean score analysis. The results show that online banking minimizes inconvenience, saves time, the cost of transaction and facilitates quick responses showed the highest mean scores i.e. 4.38, 4.26, 4.21, and 4.20. The outcomes of the benefits of online banking are similar to earlier studies of Ahmad Kaleem (2008). The customers gave average responses to rest of the statements of the benefits of online banking. The second part which was related to the risks associated with online banking show that the customer’s fear of the chance of fraud in online banking is at the top of the list with the highest mean score of 3.19.The chance of govt access to data comes second which showed the mean score of 2.56. Rest of the statements showed low mean scores. And the results of the risks associated with online banking are a bit different from previous studies.

INTRODUCTION

History tells that technological innovations have always added up in human general and professional life. And last two centuries can easily be called as the era of technological revolution. And during the process of this modern technological era the innovation of computer has totally changed the landscape of today’s modern world. Rapid technology advancements in this field have totally changed the world wide economic and business atmosphere.

Same way innovation of internet banking in the banking sector has opened a new and totally different platform for speed up communication and transactions of financial transactions for the customers (Booz et al, 1997). It is essential to introduce this latest banking tool to customers in a positive way and create awareness in customer’s minds to get the most out of this new innovation for both the customers and the service providers.

Internet banking started some 20 years back and at the moment millions of people access their bank accounts online every single day and this number is increasing day by day. You can access accounts, make payments, can transfer funds online, pay bills, view your account statements, change your personal details etc online. Instead of traditional operating boundaries, in online banking financial institutions suddenly find themselves in a different kind of environment where they compete for the customer loyalty and liquidity. Starting of this new-era of online banking facility has helped customers in many ways but it has also introduced a number of risks which were never there before in any other generation both for the customers and the banks. Although internet banking has attracted hundreds of thousands of customers around the world but still the customer satisfaction/acceptance level, security issues and the future growth of the industry are still challenged. Online banking has developed at a tremendous rate and now even banks/financial institutions are competition each other in providing online services. But only those companies who will provide more value-added services will win the customer loyalty.

Some of the barriers/drawbacks of internet banking are continuing investment that banks have to do to make sure that their online system is secure. These investments are mostly done in expensive, proprietary networks and software solutions to make their server secure from hackers and viruses. Although online banking has already completed more than twenty five years but analysis of the dimensions and the direction and the degree of risk involved in this revolution are far from complete.

As every body knows that customer satisfaction is one of the basic requirements for the success of any business in any sector around the world (Welch et al., 2005, Terblanche, 2006, Perreault et al., 2006, Cohen, 2006, Athanassopoulos and lliakopoulos, 2003) The main reason to this is that high customer satisfaction in return gives higher market share and higher level of profits (Szymankski and Henard, 2001). Satisfaction levels with online banking are improving over the years.

In this study the benefits that the customers are getting from using the online banking services are evaluated and the risk they are facing by using this service as well. In past few years, the margin of profits in banking sector has increased a lot. And online has also contributed to it. Although the ratio of accepting this new technology is different in different countries but still people are accepting it almost all over the globe. One of the positive aspects of today’s modern world of commercial banking sector is the formation of new deliverance channels for customer satisfaction and most recent of them is online banking (Daniel, E. 1999). Traditional way of providing services only by bank branches is not enough to meet the needs of today’s customers (Bradley, L et al, 2003). Adoption of online banking is increasing day by day although the level of adoption could be different in different countries.

Online/Internet banking can be defined as an alternative to traditional banking system which allows the customers to perform almost all financial transactions e.g. balance checking, money transfer, account upgrades, bank statement printing etc on the banks secure website which otherwise can be performed only by visiting the banks branch.

History of Internet Banking in UK

Online banking services started from the early ’80s in New York and in 1981. In the beginning Citibank, Chase Manhattan,Chemical and Manufacturers Hanover offered home banking services by using the videotex system but at that time videotex system didn’t became popular except in France and UK where they used videotex minitel and prestel.Now we are going to discuss the history of online banknig in UK which started in 1983 and Nottingham Building Society was the first one to start this service at that time. It was based on the UK’s prestel system and used a computer such as the BBC Micro or keyboard connected to the telephone system and television set. So, the customers had the facility to view their bank statements, bank transfers and also had the facility of making online bill payments. And at that time some part of it was done manually as well e.g. if any customers likes to make bank transfers or bill payments, (includeing details of the recipient)washad to be sent to the Nottingham Building Society had to be notified in written form who set the details up on the Homelink system. Usually people used it for paying their gas, electricity and telephone bills. While Stanford Federal Credit Union also joined NBS in October 1994 and started online banking services to its customers and was the first one to do this.

Types of Online Banking

Online banking is divided into three types and this division is done on the basis of functional level of online banking that is currently employed in the market.

  • Informational
  • Communicative
  • Transactional

Informational (Websites) – This has been identified as the first level of internet banking. Typically the bank has the marketing information about the bank’s products and services on a stand alone server. The risk is very low as informational systems typically have no path between the server and the bank’s internal network.

Communicative/Simple transactional (Websites) – This type of internet banking allows some interaction between the bank’s systems and the customer. The interaction is limited to e-mail, account inquiry, loan application or static file updates (name and address). It does not permit any funds transfers.

Advanced Transactional (Websites) – This level of internet banking allows bank customers to electronically transfer funds to/from their accounts, pay bills and conduct other banking transaction online like CABS in Zimbabwe.

Features of Online Banking

Online banking consists of many characteristics and some of them are listed below:

Transactional Features:

Features which are used to perform a financial transaction are called transactional features such as money transfer from one account to another account of either the same customer or different customers, paying bills,applying online for a credit card or for a loan or a new account etc

Non-transactional Features:

These features include online viewing or printing of account statement, checking links, cobrowsing, chat, wire transfer, sending mail to banks/financial institution administration.

Different ways of attacking Online Banking Websites

There are a number of ways used these days to directly attack either the banks websites providing the facility or their customers. But it is much easier to deceive the customers, most of the attackers try to deceive the user to steal his/her login id and password. Two of the most used methods for such kind of attacks are phishing and pharming. Other methods used to steal login information includes cross-site scripting and key logger or trojan horses. Even hackers try to attack signature based online banking method as well and they try to manipulate the software. By using this method real and genuine transactions are seen on the front page by the user to deceive him/her and faked transactions take place in the background.

A recent report by FDIC Technology Incident Report tells that around 536 cases of computer crimes related to hacking and phishing and data loss have been registerd. And if we calcute the worth of these losses it goes around $30,000 per incident . And the grand total could be up to $16-million loss within 2007. Such kind of money loss due to computer crime have already increased at a rate more than 100 percent in last 2 to 3 years. And in most of these cases the attacker cannot be identified and the targeted custormers are those who are using online services in one way or the other.

The latest method used by the hackers to attack is that a trojan horse allows the hacker to change both the destination account number and the amount of the user.

Security Measures by the Banks

In online banking increasing number of security issues day by day as compared to conventional banking is one of the major worries of banks. The most basic method used by the banks to provide security to the customers is allowing the customers to access the data by using a one time password authentication method. Most of the secure Internet shopping sites use this method for providing security to the customers. But using this method for online banking is not secure way of doing things online. Banks/financial institutions use two different security measures to fail the attacks by the hackers.

The first one is the PIN/TAN system in which users are given new passwords every time they login and do the financial transactions. And mostly these passwords are sent to the customers by post. The most appropriate way of using TANs is to generate them only when customer needs them. This is basically a two-factor authentication way and the positive aspect of adopting this method is that no additional encryption is required. The second method is also a commonly used method and this method used is Signature based in which all transactions are signed and encrypted digitally. And the digital signatures of the custoemrs are then stored either on any kind of memory storage disks or smartcards.

Countermeasures for failing such attacks

Banks and financial institutions are using several countermeasures techniques to avoid all these kinds of attacks which have been discussed in previous heading e.g. to stop attacks that are done by both phishing and pharming, digital certificates have been introduced. On the other hand, class-3 card readers are introduced to fail those attacks which target signature based online banking. While on the users end, they should use virus scanners to be on the safe side against different ways of hacking tools like phishing, pharming, Trojan horses etc. It is also been observed that when people download material from internet, many times some hacking files also enter the systems and later those files are either used directly by the hackers to steal data or those files simply start sharing and sending your data with the hackers computer. Another step taken is the multifactor authentication (MFA) process.

History of Banking

The earliest of all banks in old age were the temples of that time. This practice started around third millennium B.C. And if we think that the culture of having banks in a society only started with the invention of money, then we are wrong because they started even before this. At that time instead of money people used to deposit grain. But after sometime at a later stage, people started depositing cattles and agricultural implements. Eventually comes the deposits in the form of gold, precious stones, metals etc in the form of compressed plates were used as deposits. One of the strongest reason of using temples and palaces to keep the precious goods were that they were the safest places to store gold at that time because they were almost always full of monks or worshippers and were well built as well. On the other hand, temples were sacred places so temples give an extra protection to precious goods from robbers. Even the culture of giving loans is as old as around 18th century BC in Babylon. And most of the times those loans were given by priests/monks of that time and mostly to the businessman community of that time.

Ancient Greece also has a history of banking. Most of the transcations at that time were giving loans, deposits, exchaning the currency. And proofs have been found that rather than giving money in cash which was taken as a loan, a credit note is given to the customer in one city and the customer used to take cash in another city by showing that note. And the advantage of doing it is that it was saving the customers from getting robbed on their way from one city to another. And this technique of credit-based banking was very common in 4th century B.C.in the Mediterranean world. Egyptian people also used to use grain as an alternative of money.

By the fall of Egypt, the no. of different government based financial institutes of that time were combined into a single network of grain banks and their head office was in Alexandria from where they were monitored and the transactions of grains and other stuff from all the state granary banks were recorded. And even at that time paymets were done from one account to the other without actually moving money from one place to another. During last few decades of 3rd century B.C., an island of Delos, known for its magnificent harbor and famous temple of Apollo, became a leading and well known banking hub of that time due to the temple of Apollp and excellent harbour. Same way in Egypt, without moving cash from one place to another financial transactions used to take place by just writing a credit receipt. Ancient Rome took this art of doing financial transactions to a new level and started forming some rules and regulations and a set infrastructure for the system and formed and practiced many regulations for banks/financial institutions. Although interest charging was an old traditions but make it more structured. But further growth of Roman banks was limited because they used to do cash transactions more frequently. And even in Christinaity practice of charging interest is considered immoral, so the further development haulted at that time. And the last but not the least point to add here is that due to the fall of Roman empire banking also diminished and didn’t came on screen until the start of the crusades.

Western Banking History

Modern Western banking history initiated in London with the formation of London Royal Exchange in 1565. At that time their offices where they used to sit and do financial work were called banks. There exsisted also a hierarchical order among professionals at that time. The list included bankers, city exchanges and pawn shops respectively.Before the Industrial Revoultion Amsterdam was the financial capita of the world in 1609. And during last decade of 17th century Amsterdam, London, and Hamburg were like the central banks of the world. And the famous East India Trade company was the most stable of that time.

Global Banking

In the 1970s and 1980s there was a wave of deregulation and privatization of government enterprises. The basic reason for doing so is to improve economic growth of the countries and it was private-sector at that time which was given the responsibility to participate positively in the growth and development of the country. Even the developed countries of today were facing the issues of economic growth at that time. This gave a chance to large companied to expand their business internationally. During this phase of globalization and expansion banking sector also grew tremendously. And U.S. emerged as the largest stock market in the world. And their economy and assessts grew twice the rate of the rest of the world. But they didn’t enjoyed that kind of growth rate during last twenty years. And U.S. Foreign investments also play a part in this decline. And the other factor is growth of foreign financial markets. For example Japan where ratio of savings has gone up in last two decades and then the deregulation in other parts of the world is also a factor influencing U.S. growth rate.

Such growing trend of globalization and the avaliability of opportunities of economic growth abroad has totally changed the traditional banking and now many banks have shown keen interests and preference for the “universal banking” model. And these banks can perform all kinds of financial services. And Internet banking is used as a major tool to meet the ever growing and changing demands of todays modern customers and so internet banking also expanded its wings globally under this new era of global banking.

Such is a proof of global banking setup that by the end of 2000 around $10.5 trillion worth of financial activities were recorded breaking all the previous records. The top ten leading banks holding most of that market share was 80%. Among ten top ranked banks of the year the seven of them were multi-national bank who are doing business all around the globe and among them were three American and four European banks.

Benefits of Online Banking

Electronic Banking has many benefits and we are going to discuss them in detail now. First of all you can transfer funds from one account to another. And this could be done either between different accounts of the same person or vice versa. You can pay bills online, apply for a loan or a new account etc.Other features include printing of bank statement, changing personal details, contacting bank administration. Now if we go further in detail, we are going to examine more benefits of online banking. , service, technology, change, knowledge about computer usage and internet are a main Thornton and White (2001) found that there are many electronic distribution channels available for banks in US and then they compared them all and concluded that customer orientation towards convenience source of usage of different channels. And online banking is playing an important role to minimize the queues in branches which in turn increases efficiency of bank employees because if they got fewer customers in bank they can give them enough time and could solve their problems in a better way rather than looking at the long queue and getting stressed and under pressure (Thornton and White, 2001). Howcroft et al., (2002) found that the most important factors which are helpful in an increased number of usage of electronic banking are less fees and the reducing paper work and removal of the factor of human error.(Kiang et al., 2000). One more important factor which was concluded by Byers and Lederer, (2001) was that due to a rapid change in technology during last one century consumer attitudes have changed as well and people like to go for the usage of latest technology rather than bank cost a structure that determines the changes in distribution channels. Now users can do banking outside normal banking hours as well. Normally users can only do banking only between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. And this amount of time is only 8 to 9 hours per day. Now they have got the facility of 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to do banking operations. And this is one of the most important reasons for the adoption of online banking. Banks provide customers convenient, inexpensive access to the bank 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Another point is also found in this scenario that ATM machines are contributing a lot as well in this new era of technology and these machines are performing the same kind of transactions as do a member of the staff at a bank will do. And the point to note in this sentence is that the ATM is performing these transactions at half the cost a human can do and with a four-to-one advantage in productivity. Gerrard and Cunningham (2003) found a positive correlation about the factor of convenience and online banking because you can now do all the banking transactions even from the ease of your home and you don’t need to go to branch and wait in a queue to be served. Multi-functionality of this IT technology is also contributing feature to higher the customer satisfaction level which is not an easy task in a highly competitive time of today. With the availability of self-service machines or channels, banks can reduce their branch network and to some extend number of staffs as well. Because if people are being served by machines in the same way as by an employee and in return the customers are satisfied as well, so it means that these alternative channels are helping banks in improving their efficiency and reducing their branch network or the number of employees. And that number of staffs can be used in some other profitable venture by the bank (Birch and Young, 1997). And this thing can ultimately help towards achieving improved customer satisfaction and increasing the institution’s efficiency level (Thornton and White, 2001). Nowadays banks are even competing over providing better and secure online services and even non-banking financial institution are involved in this race. With more usage of online system customers now can compare different prices by different suppliers easily and quickly. The Internet increases the power of the customer to make price comparisons across suppliers quickly and easily. And as a result this stabilizes the prices of different products and the customers can have a better product in reasonable price. Yakhlef (2001) found out that almost all banks are responding different to this new fast growing and adopting technology. He also found that those banks which are taking it in a positive way are achieving better communication levels with customers. This point has also been discussed that by providing financial services to them right into their home/office is strengthing the bond and trust level between cutomers and the banks. As a result banks are enjoying increased customers loyalty and satisfaction.

Nancy et al. (2001) took forward this debate in a different way and viewed that customers still like and prefer to go to branch and interact with a human to solve their banking problems rather than choosing machines to solve their problem. Because they found that there are more possibilities of asking a same question in a different way or asking many different questions at a same time. And the bank clerks are less vulnerable to machines with a quick level of response to all possible questions. This increases the probability of offering customer a new product or a best suitable product to customer and at the end it leaves a good image on the customer and enhances customer loyalty. We should note another point over here that level of usage and popularity of online banking is not the same in different countries around the world and the level of response in many developing countries around the world is less than the level of response in developed countries. There are many factors which play role in such kind of response. It includes ignorance, illiteracy, insufficient security measures by the banks and the government for online banking, preference for banking in branches rather than on internet etc. For example Polatoglu and Ekin (2001) studied about online usage in Turkey and found the same reasons as described above for the low level of usage of online banking. They found that ignorance to the usage of email system and preference of doing everyday banking at bank branches are some of the main reasons of low level of adoption of online banking in Turkey. So as a result e-banking is not that famous and in use in Turkey.

Risks Associated with Electronic Banking

Now it is time to discuss the risk factor included in the usage of electronic banking. Now we are going to discuss that although customers are getting a lot of benefits by using online banking services but by using online services they are exposing them to a number of risks that should be considered before using online banking on regular basis. One of the most basic and first point in this debate is that although we accept that online banking is providing a lot of opportunities for the banks in terms of efficiency and time and money saving and customer loyalty but it also limits this whole system and its future and current growth due to security issues, complexity of the system and technical problems involved (Sathye, 1999: Mols, 1999). Now these issues can be viewed in different ways. Some people will view them as an issue related to the level of trust on one’s bank. Even Hewer and Howcroft (1999) in their studies defined these risk issues as level of trust to a measure the amount of risk. A number of previous studies have concluded that level of trust in case of electronic banking and perceived risks have a positive impact on commitment and customer loyalty and trust which ultimately leads towards overall satisfaction level of the customer about electronic banking. In this scenario, we can say that reputation of the service provider also affects the customer’s level of trust on the financial institution/bank. Doney and Cannon (1997) defined reputation as the safety of customers money and privacy. Because if the customers are not sure of the honesty or loyalty of their service provider they will simply quit that service provider and move to some other service provider which they think is better and more honest and concerned about the security of their financial transactions. Level of trust is the first and the most basic step of doing any kind of business with any firm/institution or service provider. Tyler and Stanley (1999) also argued on the same thing that by showing commitment, honesty and cooperation between them and the customers, they can win customer loyalty. In some cases it is found that customers’ do have complains about the longer logon times consumed during online banking transactions rather than using any other medium for communication e.g. phone call etc. Min and Galle (1999) found one of the common factor in their survey which is the disruption of information access to be one of the most common factor which draws the customers away from using Internet channels for commerce.

Similar results have been found by Liao and Cheung (2002) in their research and they also suggested that customers expect the online system to be always accurate, friendly, fully secure, level of service should be good i.e. response time. If these factors are there then we can say that online banking can grow and it does hold a future otherwise the future is a bit doubtful and some positive changes are needed in the online system. Confidentiality or privacy of data is also one the major factors to be considered in adoption of online banking because a large number of customers feel unsecured about sharing their personal information by this medium and feel that their personal information could be used in a way to exploit them or to share with someone without have the right to share their personal information. (Gerrard and Cunningham, 2003). In the same scenario a research was conducted in UK by White and Nteli (2004) about the number of internet users n the country and the number of online banking users in the country. And the major factor which came up at the end of the study was that people in UK are vary of sharing their personal information on Internet and they are still not satisfied about the laws by the government about internet banking and the frauds and hacking. This is an example of unfair or incomplete and unprotected system available to be used by everybody from a genuine customer to a hacker. In some cases people are not sure that in case of a dispute whether electronic documents and records are enough to prove their point or they ar not acceptable. And if a dispute arises in case of a fraud then what is going to the result of it, whether they will have enough material or not to prove their point. Other similar kind of risks include loss of job for many employees because of more frequent use of machines for financial transactions rather than going to bank branch. They it affects the social part of the society as well. because if people are doing all such things at home then they will not go out and contact with other people will reduce which will reduce the opportunities for people to socialize and interact with other people and to some extent can add up to a less active society (Black at al., 2001).

LITERATURE REVIEW

How Banks perceive Online banking in developing countries

Online banking provides substitutes of fast services of banking to a large number of customers. Online banking services are fast becoming popular both among academics and practitioner. Rapid advancement in banking industry has brought a lot of amendments in the sector. Public banks dominated the financial markets before 1990. After 1990 the privatization of banking sector started. Many amendments and improvements came after the privatization of banking sector. Even the electronic banking started after the privatization of the sector. Out of many technological wonders electronic banking is one of the wonders. Quite a lot of online services are being provided by different banks in Pakistan i.e. checking account statement, account balance, checking current balance, transfer of funds, credit cards payments, direct payments, utility bills payments, cheque book requests, stop payments requests, demand draft requests, new fixed deposit requests, statement download, other information and guidelines download.

This study describes the risks and benefits of online banking in Pakistan. It minimizes inconvenience, reduces transaction cost and saves time. It also reduces the risk of cash carrying. But it leads to data access to public which leads to data insecurity and enhances the chances of fraud and embezzlement. Electronic banking involves lower fee and less paper work and human error. O

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