Top Three Myths about Online Banking

online-banking-from-pexelsWhile many think that going online is an activity enjoyed exclusively by those of Generation X and Generation Y, 70% of Canadian seniors are logging online each day. As the fastest growing internet demographic, older Canadians across the country are video chatting with friends and family, sending loved ones emails, and commenting on news articles with increasing frequency. Online banking is no exception to this trend.

In fact, using the internet is the most popular banking method in Canada, and the Pew Research Centre has found that online banking is becoming uniformly popular among all age groups, including seniors. “Technology services … have become increasingly popular with boomers and seniors, and as their comfort level with technology grows, so too do their adoption rates of online banking,” Pew Research reported.  “The annual growth rate of seniors actively using online banking is outperforming all other generations, followed by Gen Y, Boomers, and Gen X.”  Research has even found that of seniors who bank online, 33% pay bills over the internet, while only 32% of Generation X online bankers do the same.

Not all older Canadians feel comfortable with this trend, though – it’s where many draw a line. Often, a reason many give for avoiding online banking is fear, while others don’t want to lose the opportunity to speak to a representative in person each month. Some simply find banking in person more convenient, and see online banking as complicated and time consuming.

You might be surprised to learn that all of these obstacles are actually online banking myths. Canada’s internet banking systems have gone through major updates since online deposits and transactions were first introduced. In fact, today online banking provides Canadian seniors with more benefits than risks when used carefully. Here’s a list of the top three myths about online banking that still linger. Take a gander; as we dispel them, you might be surprised!

Myth 1: Online Banking Isn’t Safe

If you’re worried about that your credit card number or identity could be stolen if you bank online, you’re not alone. A study by Ipsos Reid found that 83% of Canadian internet bankers worry about the theft and security of their information when it’s online. As James Belle, a senior interviewed by Global news, said, “You can’t put your information online. There are too many sharks that are looking for information.”

However, while it’s understandable that putting information online can be worrisome, this fear is born out of a lack of information about how to keep personasafe-from-pexelsl and financial information safe on the internet. Major Canadian banks have many safeguard measures in place to protect their clients’ information, and when these measures are combined with careful and informed clients, theft rarely occurs. For example, CIBC provides its clients with a digital banking security guarantee. In the event that information is stolen, the bank reimburses victims 100% of all money lost. The bank also uses online encryption to protect transmitted data, firewalls to prevent hackers, personal verification questions to prevent theft, and constant system monitoring. TD uses the same system, and RBC uses the same reimbursement system and a similar protection system. It also provides users with a special activation code.

Eryk Titus, a Windsor, Ontario resident, was impressed with his bank’s concern when his credit card was used without his knowledge: “They noticed an unusual charge before I did, and called me immediately. They completely reimbursed the charge and took steps to protect my information. I haven’t had any issues since.”

Banks also provide clients with information about what they can do to stay informed and protect their identities. When using online banking, you should always take precautions, just as you should always wear a seat belt and follow the rules of the road when driving. Use a secure internet connection to do your online banking, keep an active antivirus program on your computer, don’t share your log in password, change your password regularly, and let your bank know if you see any strange charges on your account.

Because of the safety measures in place, the benefits of banking online often outweigh the risk of lost information. This is similar to flying across Canada in an airplane — while unpredictable weather and potential technical malfunctions pose risks to our safety, we fly anyways because the pilot, flight attendants, and mechanics are skilled and trained to look out for our safety. The benefits of flying outweigh the unlikely but potential risks we face, and there are safeguards to protect us if something unexpected does occur.

Myth 2: Online Banking is Inconvenient

busy-street-from-pexelsFor some who bank online, antivirus programs and secure internet connections seem confusing, and online banking becomes even more complicated when thinking about figuring out where to go on a website to move money or how to deposit a cheque by taking a picture of it with a mobile phone. Others worry they will have to wait for funds to be deposited or moved. As a result, simply walking to the bank seems more convenient than the hassle of learning how to navigate a banking website or mobile app.

However, for many seniors, getting to the bank is difficult. The Ottawa Sun reported that when the Scotiabank branch in Ottawa’s Riverside Mall closed this summer, many local seniors, particularly those without cars, were frustrated. The next available branch was 30 minutes away, and not easily accessible by bus due to six lanes of traffic between the branch and the bus stop. Frank Szmigielski, a senior Ottawa resident, could not make the 30 minute walk or journey across the busy road due to congestive heart failure.

Moreover, during busy periods at their banks, many seniors find standing in line waiting to see a teller extremely difficult, and ambient music and the chatter of other clients can make it hard for them to hear the teller when they do reach the counter. The fine print on bank receipts and other notifications can also be hard to read, as banks often use small print.

As a result, many seniors decide to take the plunge and use online banking – and when they do, they find that navigating banking websites and apps is easy once they get the hang of it. Many banks provide how-to manuals on their websites explaining, for example, how to e-deposit a cheque, and some banking apps even provide step-by-step instructions when you log in, showing you which buttons to press to do different activities. Of course, Students for Seniors is always willing to help with our tutoring services and workshops, too.

Most banks allow you to use your deposited or moved funds immediately, depending on the size of the deposit, payment, or transfer. You can check your accounts online at any time without having to walk to an ATM or stand in line to see a teller. This also means that you can monitor all of your account activity on a regular basis.

The majority of modern devices offer users the chance to enlarge text and increase the volume, too – but most importantly, the conveniences of online banking mean that many seniors don’t have to rely on others to help them bank. They can conduct their business on their own schedule, and check their bank accounts and pay their bills in just a few minutes while sipping their morning coffee – all without hurting their backs or straining to hear or see.

Myth 3: If You Bank Online, You Lose Face-to-Face Service

tablet-from-pexelsMany bank at their local branch because they prefer to speak to a teller in person. They prefer a welcoming smile, a friendly conversation, and the chance to see a familiar face each week. However, online banking doesn’t have to completely replace your banking routine. It works well as a banking supplement that allows you to conduct transactions when your schedule doesn’t allow you to visit the bank, and provides updates so you can be more informed about your financial decisions. For example, you can quickly check your account balance using your bank’s website or app before making a purchase, then withdraw money later that week before visiting a store.

However, if you need to rely more heavily on online banking services – or even if you supplement your daily banking with an online system – you won’t lose the opportunity to speak to a bank representative in person. Today’s video chat capabilities allow banks to provide customers with personal, face-to-face service. In December 2015, Canada’s own TD bank, for example, became the first bank to offer customer service over Facebook messenger, which has a video chat option. Theresa McLaughlin, TD’s Chief Marketing Officer, said, “It is an important communication platform for us to make a more personal, human connection with our customers.” TD also offers a live chat option through its website, as do CIBC and RBC. This means that online bankers can pay their bills, locate ATMs, deposit cheques, and transfer money while speaking with a teller – and can do so without spending 30 minutes or more and waiting in a long line to spend a few minutes on a transaction.

Seniors are already starting to recognize that online banking can be safe, convenient, and personal, and in doing so they’re adapting to the system at a far faster rate than any other generation! They are dispelling the biggest myth of all – that older Canadians are unwilling or unable to make their way in the digital world. Do you bank online? Why or why not? Comment below to share your thoughts, or share this post with someone who might be intrigued by the benefits that online banking can provide.

Be sure to check back next week to read about apps that can help keep you and your family safe and connected this Halloween!

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