Should we be converting to online banking?


Nation recently spoke to the Barclays bank team, who are trying to encourage their customers to make the transition to more modern forms of banking, and “convenience” and “flexibility” were the most prevalent words being bandied around.

I asked Rakesh Jha, the managing director of Barclays Seychelles, and his team some questions on why we should consider converting to internet banking and how safe it is to bank over the internet.

Can I pay any kind of bill with online banking? What if the account I want to pay banks with another bank?
Barclays’ online banking already supports payments to most major service providers in Seychelles, including Cable & Wireless, Airtel, PUC and Intelvision, with a dedicated section in the online banking page dedicated to paying your bills with the click of a button.

“Can you imagine that you receive a bill when you go home, and within 30 minutes, the bill is already paid?” asked Mr Jha. “I’ve seen queues at month-end at some places that almost go round the corner of the building. So imagine how convenient it is for customers to just go on the internet to carry out the transaction.”

How do I stay safe when using online banking?
“Online banking is generally a very secure method of transacting, because Barclays has what we call double password protection,” explained Mr Jha. “Not only do you have your own login ID and password, but every time you log in, the bank generates a random password and sends it across to you on your registered mobile which you then input to access your account. This secures you in a way that is two-fold.”

“One of the biggest risks that customers face when accessing internet banking is the phishing risk, where there will be entities that try to masquerade as bank officials and try to get you to share your login password and ID. This could come in the form of an e-mail, a telephone call or an SMS. Customers have to be very careful. If they receive any message that asks them for their personal login details or passwords they should immediately call our call centre. Normally banks will never ask you for any information that could compromise your identity.”

Following some simple precautionary measures, like not disclosing the pin number and password to anyone, changing the password at regular intervals – weekly or monthly – and also installing good antivirus software on your computer can ensure the security and safety of your banking transactions.

How much does it cost? Is it cheaper or more expensive than traditional banking?
“There are actually no fees to sign up for internet banking, and what we are doing is to make it cheaper for you to use compared to traditional banking,” said Phillipa De Charmoy Lablache, the retail liabilities & acquiring manager at Barclays.

“Say you wanted to do a transfer from your account to your child’s account, which, if you had gone into the branch you would have been charged R25, we make that free for Barclays-to-Barclays accounts. Even if you do it from a Barclays account to an account held at another bank, which you would have been charged R35, is actually R25 if you do it via internet banking. It’s saving you time and it’s saving you money.”

Is it available to anyone who has an account? How do you get it set up?
“It’s available to anybody with a current or savings account,” said retail director Fabiola Horner. “To get set up, there are two ways – if all your details on our system are up to date, like for instance if you have recently opened an account, you can go straight to the website and do all your registrations there. But if you have had an account with us for a long time and there are contact details which are probably out of date, just come to us and do the registration with a personal banker in the branch.”

Is it true that it’s very complicated to use if you don’t know much about computers?
Mr Jha grabs his iPad eagerly and starts touching the screen while he talks.
“It’s so easy to use online banking, it’s like taking baby steps.

“When you go onto the website and you click on the login for internet banking, it will take you to the login screen, where you will enter your login ID and password,” he says, showing me his screen as his phone vibrates on the coffee table.

“The bank will simultaneously send you a random password on your mobile phone, which you just enter on your screen and you’re into your account.”

If you dislike unnecessary wastes of paper, you can just view your bank balance online or opt for your statements to be e-mailed to you and store them on your computer, which is helpful for the environment.

Between mobile phones with internet access, tablets and laptops, you can conduct your banking just about anywhere imaginable and at any time that’s convenient for you. So whether you need to pay your electricity bill or transfer money to another account, you may never have to stand in another queue again.

Moving your bank account online won't fix all your money woes, and paying bills will never be something any of us will ever look forward to. But if you want to make managing your finances as easy as it can possibly be, online banking looks like it’s the way to go.


By Hajira Amla