“Supporting people interested in using online banking” was the title of a new report from the Payments Council – the body with responsibility for ensuring payment services work in the UK – this week.
According to the Payments Council, around 70% of people who could use internet banking on their main bank account are doing so, and millions more British adults who have never tried internet banking would be interested in starting. They estimated about 4 million might be keen to try it.
But a surprising finding was that twice that number – an estimated 8 million – had no interest at all in online banking, even if they were internet connected. In particular one in six of those over 65 said it wasn’t something they wished to try.
So why won’t banks wake up and stop trying to force these people into having a service they don’t want? I know it’s not comparable, but the banks have recently been punished heavily for mis-selling payment protection insurance – a service that a lot of people didn’t want but felt forced into – and we know how that saga ended. But in some ways making people give up paper is an even more invidious process, as many people are automatically migrated to a new system – whether it be making statements less frequent or online only – and told to opt out if they don’t like it.
So many people don’t read the small print on a regular bill or statement that it can be a while before they notice. We have had letters from people telling us it was only after they realised they hadn’t had a certain bill for a while and rang up to query why not, that they found they’d been moved online. And one supporter, who was being switched to quarterly online bills by her bank, says it was only her knowledge of the Keep Me Posted campaign that prompted her into immediately calling and opting to keep her paper.
In the Payment Council’s research, those that weren’t interested in online banking cited security as an issue. Just 15% were “very confident” that online banking was safe and secure, while almost a quarter (25%) worried they wouldn’t remember a PIN number or password.
To counter this, the Payment Council has issued a support guide for those interested in online banking, whose good advice may be worth reading for anyone who chooses to look after their accounts that way.
But I take issue with the Payment’s Council’s claim that millions are “potentially missing out” if they don’t have online banking. They have just chosen a different path with paper which should be respected.
If you want to read a copy of the Pay Council's advice on online banking it can be found here: http://www.payyourway.org.uk/special-focus/remote-banking-your-rights/