With the explosion of the internet, technological advances and conveniences have made their way into every area of everyday life. It’s therefore no surprise that banking has developed a major presence on the World Wide Web as well. But how safe is it? Is your money secure? What are the advantages and disadvantages of online banking?
To determine if internet banking is right for you, consider which banking advantages you deem to be most important. Since you can get basically the same services online as you can inside a regular bank, the decision therefore falls to how the products are offered and serviced in each location. Do you enjoy the convenience of paying all of your bills without having to leave your home? Do you like the idea of checking your account balances from your personal computer whenever you want to, any time of the day or night? Or are you more comfortable with unparalleled customer service, a friendly face that you can speak to one-to-one when you have a problem?
Now, you don’t necessarily have to choose strictly between one and the other. Most brick-and-mortar banks now feature a website from which they offer online banking to their customers. A simple application is usually required to set up access to your account, which usually only takes a few minutes. Once you’re online, you can do virtually anything with your money that you could by going to the bank itself. You can open additional accounts, move your money between accounts, pay your bills with online bill payment, and even receive your paycheck with direct deposit. It’s actually conceivable that if you don’t experience any problems, you might never have to physically enter your local branch again.
Of course, if you do run into trouble with the online portion of your account, you may find out that you can’t just go into the bank and immediately get help for it. Some banks have completely separated their online services from their regular person-to-person customer service, forcing you to call their internet-banking customer support team. So it’s possible that what you gain in convenience you could possibly lose in personalized service.
There are now a number of banks that are strictly internet-based. These institutions have taken full advantage of the generally-positive attitude with which consumers have embraced online banking. With lower overhead costs due to the fact that there are no local branches to pay for, these banks can pass on some of that savings to their customers in the form of higher rates on deposit accounts. Internet-based banks can also offer all of the products and services that traditional banks have: checking and savings accounts, Certificates of Deposit, credit cards, loans and mortgages, business banking services, etc. As long as the bank is a member of the Federal Deposit insurance Corporation (FDIC), your money is just as safe as if you were doing business at a brick-and-mortar financial institution. You can verify any bank’s (internet or land-based) membership by visiting the FDIC’s website here.
Some people prefer a person that they can talk to face-to-face whenever they have an issue. They favor the “personal touch” in customer service. If this is you, then you’ll probably never be completely comfortable with an internet bank. However, if convenience and unlimited access to your accounts is higher on your list than personalized support, it’s hard to beat online banking. With the security of the FDIC behind them, it’s clear that internet banks are here to stay.