BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
Do you remember back in the day when you had to visit the bank manager for whatever reason, review your overdraft, apply for a loan, you put a bit of effort into your appearance for the visit?
Now you don’t have to get out of bed to conduct most business with a bank.
Once you knew the bank manager and they knew you. You had the opportunity to build relationships with bank staff and seek face-to-face assistance. We were once classed as customers, clients of the bank. Not anymore. We are now consumers and are pushed more and more to digital interaction to manage our finances whether we wish to or not. Take a tour of the net and you will see the various financial providers are improving the way they digitally interact with us.
One notable downside of digital banking is the potential loss of the personal touch. Unlike traditional banking, where customers could build relationships with bank staff and seek face-to-face assistance, online banking can feel impersonal. The absence of direct human interaction may leave some customers feeling disconnected or frustrated when they encounter complex financial issues or require personal advice.
While customer support is often available through helplines or chatbots, it does not provide the same level of reassurance or specific guidance as a conversation with a knowledgeable member of staff.
Striking a balance between the convenience of digital banking and the importance of personalised customer service remains a challenge that financial institutions must address to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty in an increasingly digital world.
Even cash is becoming scarce. You see it more and more that actual money is not being accepted – card only. Digital transactions have gained popularity but there are instances where cash payments or withdrawals are necessary or preferred. And when the system is down you may experience difficulties accessing cash from ATMs.
Yes, accuracy increases, human errors are reduced, and you can keep a close eye on your finances. Apart from providing the usual banking functions it makes loans, investments, and insurance products more accessible to those who lived in areas that have had inadequate services and those with limited mobility. As we see avenues have opened up for microfinancing and crowdfunding, enabling small businesses to access capital more easily.
But with any digital innovation, there are benefits and dangers associated with its use. These online advancements do offer convenience and accessibility. With just a few taps on a phone or clicks on a computer, you can access your accounts, make payments, transfer funds, and perform a wide range of financial operations at a time that suits you, thus saving valuable time and allows you to manage your finances efficiently, regardless of your location.
However, it is essential to recognise and address the potential dangers that accompany these developments as cybercriminals are constantly evolving their techniques to exploit weaknesses in online platforms through phishing attacks, identity theft, and malware infections posing significant threats to users’ private financial information.
Data breaches happen regularly as hackers target financial institutions to gain access to customers personal and financial information. One breach can have severe consequences, from financial loss to reputational damage for both the customers and institutions.
Digital banking relies heavily on technological infrastructure, which, at times “fall over”. These downtimes or system failures can prevent users from accessing their accounts. Such disruptions cause inconvenience, financial loss, and erode customer confidence.
Banks must continue to invest in tougher cybersecurity systems, employ better encryption techniques, conduct regular audits, and establish proactive incident response protocols to reduce the risks associated with data breaches. And even though they continue to pour money into on-line interaction they must not lose “the common touch”.
And as for us it is crucial we remain vigilant, use stronger passwords, set up two-factor authentication where available and stop sharing confidential details on social media sites.