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Online Banking Services

Overview

As a user of websites, you are almost certainly a user of online banking.  But over all, Irish bank customers have been slow to adopt online banking services. Whether the fault lies with the banks or with the customers is a debatable point. In my opinion both are at fault but the balance of fault lies with the banks.

Online banking services are undoubtedly cheaper to operate than traditional services from the point of view of the bank, particularly if they can build up volume. But in the view of this author, the most expensive option for a bank is the situation of a mix of traditional and online services. One might therefore expect that the banks might inject some urgency into the switch to online and electronic services. And you might expect that this would lead to the provision of online services which are so well presented that there is no contest. And customers might flock to them.

When I visit my bank, I see lots of machines for this or that service – but I have yet to see a bank branch offering a service of making their online service available in the branch.  And I frequently meet bank staff who do not use online banking.  They don’t need to, because they can use the banks internal systems – but the result is that they are sometimes less than enthusiastic about online banking.

Online banking services are widely used to look up current balances on accounts - both by the personal sector and by the business sector. But for the business sector, the cheque is the predominant method of paying invoices. And relatively few personal payments are originated online.

So what do I want in my online system?

I want the simplicity of Paypal, with the fullest security. With the minimum of difficulty, I want to be able to issue invoices online, and without further inputting, I want to be able to have invoices presented to me, and to have the capability to pay or reject those invoices. As a micro-business, I want to be able to do this without any expensive software development, but the system should also be capable of being linked to fully integrated financial packages. It should be standardised across banks.

As a personal user of online, I want a system which is stand alone - it should not require further support by phone if I want to set up a new payee. I appreciate that some banks have such facility - mine does not. And I want to be able to make payments abroad.

Following are links to the online services of the various retail banks:-

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and many will praise the system they are familiar with.  Having looked at all banks, my preference for clarity, range of service and general usefulness is National Irish’s Online banking.

“Live” balances – Shadow posting

In general, online accounts show transactions in your account immediately when the items are presented to the account.  You see the transaction at the same time that the bank does.  But the bank reserves the right to decide upon whether to pay certain items or bounce them.  So certain banks regard the current days transactions as “shadow postings” and not as real posting.  The fact that a cheque is shown as paid today does not actually mean that it has been actually paid, according to the bank. 

In certain banks, debit card transactions are shown in the account as paid on the basis that a card has been presented to a retailer, and the bank has authorised it.  The actual transaction will be posted to your account when it comes through to your account the following day.  Occasionally, it happens that the actual transaction is delayed, so that the transaction temporarily disappears from your account…. But it will inevitably return.