On HSBC fighting ferociously against online banking convenience

Hobbes, I guess by now you must know I try to keep my paws away from the planned incompetence and limitations of nowadays branch banking.

In a number of occasions I have denounced how by planned sheer incompetence banks are pushing us towards online and telephone banking while making online and telephone more and more difficult and inconvenient for us.

The most ridiculous in-branch lunacy I can find so far is the open air telephone banking booths at HSBC branches, no staff member can discuss your credit card issues, but you are addressed to use the phone in the middle of the branch, right by the queue, where every idle person in line will have no other thing to do, but listen to your credit matters while looking the other way. So much for privacy. So much for customer care.

But going back to online banking (and leaving aside the eternal fact that they do NOT pass on savings onto you if you decide to do 99% of your banking online).

Overall, DIY banking doesn’t pay, but the cost of opportunity of branch banking is too high in terms of time, patience, and I know I wouldn’t voluntarily be part of an incompetence show.

Anyway, I just spotted this message I received from HSBC:

Subject: Added Security for UK Payments

To provide you with additional security when making payments on-line, we will shortly be introducing a new security feature for selected online payments within the UK.

If you create a payment to a brand new beneficiary we will, on selected transactions, confirm your identity in a few simple steps:

– If your payment is selected, an automated call will be made to your chosen contact number.

– You will be asked to verify a code number which will be displayed in Internet Banking.

– Once the code has been recognised, the payment instruction will be automatically authorised.

If we can’t reach you by telephone other security checks will be made whilst we process your transaction.

Further information about this new feature can be found in our FAQs.

To accommodate this security feature, we will shortly be changing our Personal Internet Banking Terms and Conditions and will send you a separate message explaining the change.

It is important that your telephone contact details are kept up to date. You can check and update the contact numbers that we hold for you by clicking on ‘My details‘ and then ‘Telephone numbers‘.

Thank you for banking with HSBC.

Seriously, as much as I try, I cannot help thinking that they are going too far with this security thing. Barclays PINsentry annoying idea is bad enough. So now, the security code and unique username I have been using for the last 4 years, it’s not enough.

Now they are planning to make changes so that once I can see my accounts, statements, balances et al, to pay someone else by transfer using the "fast payment facility" (which actually works with HSBC, something good) I will have to "verify a code number" over the phone. This is ridiculous. The whole point of internet banking being better than telephone banking that you don’t have to speak to anyone and do your thing in 5 minutes, now we’ll have to wait for a phone call.

But the other day I read in Atlas Shrugged something that made me think:

By the essence and nature of existence, contradictions cannot exist. If you find something inconceivable, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.

Then I thought, isn’t HSBC losing money from same-day CHAPS transfers (£25/30 the pop) when people can, and do, use same-day fast payment facility? Adding extra hassle to the customer will send them back to the branches to get that payment done on the day… That’s what I had been thinking for a while, and it looks to me that they have found the answer.



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