Monday, November 16, 2015

Banks, security, and ease of use

When we cut the cord and went wireless, we had a large number of problems including runaway data and bank access.

We solved the runaway data problem by cutting out automatic downloads and monitoring our usage.

Bank access is another problem.  Some banks put up a huge security wall, others just require an ID and a password from a known computer.  If you change computers, then they will send a text message to a known phone.  The huge security wall can be a real problem if you don’t have the “right” phone and the “right” browser.

You would think as more and more people go wireless, the banks would make it as easy as possible for depositors to access their systems.  Many people really don’t want to do the research to find out why they can’t access their bank.  And it is in the bank’s interest to have people bank online so that they need fewer tellers.

i bank at Republic Bank of Duluth.  I get all kinds of weird results including something like “If this error persists, contact the system administrator."  The long, long error code seems never to be the same and no phone number, email address, or feedback page is provided to contact the system administrator.

I have talked to a branch manager about this and she in turn called somebody in tech support.  The only thing they could tell me was that my provider, Consumer Cellular, was changing the IP address.  Consumer Cellular support says that CC is not changing the IP address.

I did figure out that I had the wrong cellular phone number in my account.  I changed that and things seemed to work for awhile.  Then the phone number went blank on my account!  I reset it again, and I have again sporadic success, more often not.

I have no such problems using Wi-Fi at coffee shops.  Can the banks ensure the security of every coffee shop’s Wi-Fi?

My wife banks at Pioneer Bank of Duluth.  She has no problem accessing her account through cellular data.  That is via Firefox on her Mac and Safari on her iPad. When I accessed her account on my MacBook via Firefox, the web page asked me to select a phone number for a text message.  When the text message came to my wife’s phone, I entered the number on my Mac and gained access to her account.

I might switch my funds to Pioneer if Republic doesn’t have a solution soon.  But as I don’t care for the format of Pioneer’s statements, I am also considering Members Co-operative Credit Union of Duluth (MCCU).  Also, I’m partial to co-operatives over corporations.

I had a long conversation with an MCCU representative and found out that their online banking doesn’t work with certain phones and browsers.  She had no information about access via Consumer Cellular.

I have decades of computer experience and sometimes relish unraveling problems.  Sometimes it seems I know less and less about more and more.  Think about all the people who are afraid their devices might crash if they push the wrong button.

If organizations really want people to access them online, you would think they would bend over backward to make it as simple as possible.  But no, they operate in their own little silo and expect all users to accept their way of doing things.

How many people do you know who would have problems figuring out half of what I have written above?  If I am confused by all that I have learned, how confused would many others be?