catering to consumers

September 11th, 2006

So I finally got my internet account with ABN Amro activated. I set this whole thing up in February when I opened my account, but for reasons unknown the package "went missing" in the mail. This is exactly the kind of thing one should take care, even if there is no immediate need for it. Without an internet banking account, if I want to make a transfer I have to go to the bank, which is not an option. Certainly not after using internet banking for years.

So I went over there to complain and the guy opens with "what can I do for you". I like how friendly they are. Then I tell him all about it and he says "your account was not registered for internet banking". Right, so wtf was the guy telling me when I opened it? The exact opposite.

Well anyway, I get the package and it looks like a dvd. I open the box, there's a little calculator (an electronic device that looks like a calculator and does some hardware-based number crunching specifically for the purpose of logging you into your account) inside. Albeit with a twist, it has a slot for your bank card (like those Game Boys). So I try to log in with this thing. On the website, I have to enter my account number and card number. Then I get a code. I slide my bank card into the calculator, type in the pin, then enter the code I just got off the website. It gives me another code that I have to enter into the website again. Jeez, what an ordeal just to log in. First the two numbers, both printed on my card. Then the pin to my card, and the newly-generated code from the website. Then the code from the calculator. All in all that's 5 different codes I have to handle in one transaction.

But what is an example without a counter example. The Swedish bank Skandiabanken is doing very well on the Norwegian market for reasons I won't expound upon (basically they have cut the number of different charges to the bone, for most things they don't charge you anything, and they have a decent interest rate). When I log into Skandiabanken, all I need is my social security code and a pin code. That's it. I don't need my bank card on hand, I don't need a special 'calculator' or anything else. But, there is a setup cost. The first time you log in, you need to create a user certificate. The bank website has a wizard that guides you through the steps. They will send you a one-time security code per post (or sms), which you have to input as part of the process. So if you register your phone number on their site, they can send you the code by sms, which takes 5 minutes. That means for every new computer you want to access your bank account from, there's a setup cost of about 10 minutes. And then once you've done it once (it's good for a year), you just log in with the social security code and a pin code.

Now tell me that isn't simpler and quicker than ABN Amro's system. Notice I'm not doing a secutity audit of the two methods, I'm just comparing how user friendly they are.

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3 Responses to "catering to consumers"

  1. erik says:

    I used to be a client at the Postbank. Their internet system was very basic, I logged in using my account number and a pincode I chose myself. Then if I wanted to make a transaction, they would send a text message to my cellphone with an 8-digit code I would have to enter in for verification purposes. That's it. And it worked from every computer.

    But it was prone to hacking, every few weeks newspapers would report people losing money via Postbank's internet system. So I switched to ABN. I'll take the codes if it means my money is safer. Seeing as I don't have a lot of it :D

  2. numerodix says:

    A new code for every transaction? Sheesh, sounds painful. :D

    Skandiabanken should open a section in Holland, as an extension of their business in Denmark. :stuckup:

  3. erik says:

    I dunno, I kinda like being with the Ajax people :D