Mobile banking on the rise

Internet, telephone and SMS banking are exposing customers to fraud, according to experts

The rapid growth of automated banking facilities, such as online banking, telephone banking and now mobile phone banking, is creating a situation where banks are losing touch with their customers and potentially exposing them to fraud.

Banks are also losing the chance to offer their customers tailored advice as well as missing the opportunity to cross-sell products.

According to research published on Wednesday by the Henley Centre, commissioned by BT, 39 percent of respondents aged between 25 and 44 deal with their finances when they're on the move, on their way to or from work. Respondents aged 18 to 24 are clamouring even more for mobile banking, with a preference for text alerts and SMS banking.

Advocates of strong authentication and greater security may recoil at such news. And one expert in the financial services sector has suggested the banking industry's tendency to push customers towards automated forms of banking has laid the foundations for frauds such as phishing.

However, the greatest issue isn't with the security of the technology but with the inability of banks to communicate messages in person and understand their customers' concerns having all but removed the need for face-to-face interaction.

Mitchel Lenson, former group chief information officer of Deutsche Bank, told delegates at ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com's CIO Forum earlier this year: "What we did during the 90s was push relationships away because we thought people would use ATMs and not need to speak to anybody."

Lenson said this move towards remote banking has created a culture of insecurity and he urged banks to restore personal relationships with customers and close the gaping education divide in which fraudsters operate.

Gary Bullard, UK MD of BT Global Services, said: "Automated services are great for consumers who want speedy access to information, and fantastic news for banks that are looking to improve operational efficiency as well as customer service. Personal service remains vital, however, and banks forget this at their peril."

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