The Pros and Cons of Online Banking

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With the proliferation of internet banking it’s difficult – even for those who are old enough – to remember a time when offline banking was all there was.

Sending and receiving paper checks, making trips to the bank to make a deposit or a withdrawal, working around the bank’s hours of operation in order to check or confirm your balance, and on and on it went. But we didn’t care. It’s just the way it was.

But now, internet banking has become so mainstream that the thought of ever having to go back to the offline days is wince-inducing, because we now have no idea how we ever got along without the internet.


Online Banking Is (Mostly) Upside

Few would argue that online banking is not an advantageous tool that fits handsomely into the fast-paced world in which we live. The convenience is undeniable. But while the pros of online banking certainly outweigh the cons, there are a few drawbacks. Let’s look at both the upside and the downside of online banking.

The Pros

Paying Bills – Whether it is paying through your checking or saving account, a money market account, or even from your home equity line of credit, the capacity to pay most or all of your bills online is something that we just cannot live without. Most creditors even allow for automated recurring payments so that consumers don’t risk forgetting to pay a bill and being penalized.

Mobile Capability - Most banks not only offer their customers the convenience of online banking, they also feature mobile-friendly websites that allow customers to do their banking on the go. The apps the banks are offering are being implemented with more and more features all the time in an effort to expand on the convenience that is afforded smartphone users.

Simple Set Up and Use – Online banking for the most part is as easy as using any other interactive website. With a few clicks and keystrokes, even the most inexperienced internet user can be up and running on their online bank account in no time. Most banks even offer 24-hour live customer service or email customer service capability.

The Cons

Admittedly there isn’t too much downside to online banking but there are a few things that many customers would change if they could.

Security – This is arguably the most significant drawback to online banking. The new millennium is the age of the computer hacker and identity theft is one of the most widespread social diseases in America and around the world. As such, despite every bank's best effort to keep its website secure, unfortunately nothing is foolproof and there is always at least a slight risk that someone somewhere will hack into your account and gain access to sensitive information.

Transaction Issues - Even though online banking is light years more convenient than its traditional counterpart, there are just certain aspects of banking that need to be done in person rather than from behind a computer or cell phone monitor. Depositing cash, making certain types of international transactions, and other service issues can be challenging to address via email or even real-time customer service chat capability. With some service issues, it behooves the customer to make a trip to the bank and get their needs met face-to-face.

There Goes The Budget - For users that struggle with making impulse purchases or avoiding the necessity of formulating a budget, instant access to an account’s balance can breed irresponsibility. It’s easy to fall into the “I still have money in my account” trap, but this is detrimental for long and short term financial planning when users think that a positive balance means there’s still money to spend, when really it means not all of the deductions are reflected on the account.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Banking and Loans , Basics , Technology

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