FSA raises concerns over Internet banking

Consumer confidence is 'fragile', but it's not just banks who need to clean up their act

The government financial services watchdog has hit out at consumers for failing to bank "responsibly" on the Internet — but said banks must do more to help consumers learn safer online banking habits.

The remarks come as research from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) found consumer confidence in online banking to be "fragile".

Philip Robinson, financial crime expert at the FSA, said in a statement: "Most consumers recognise they have some responsibility for security but they are not necessarily following this obligation through.

"To tackle the losses associated with fraud, banks should continue to drive security and this must include educating consumers on the importance of protecting themselves."

Half of the 1500 respondents surveyed by the FSA said they were "very" or "extremely" concerned about the potential fraud that could occur through an online transaction.

Most respondents who bank online said they had installed some security software on their computers but more than a quarter could not say when they last updated it.

Robinson added: "Banks need to look carefully at consumer attitudes and whether their initiatives are effective in maintaining confidence."

According to payment-processing body Apacs, fraud losses through Internet banking totalled £14.5m in the first half of 2005.

The FSA added that if banks moved the liability of fraud loss to the consumer, 77 percent of those surveyed who used it said they would abandon Internet banking.

95 percent of those surveyed said at least some security responsibility should lie with the bank, while 45 percent said banks should take sole responsibility.