geldschneider : Gefährliches Onlinebanking!
May 5, 2005 - 2:14PM
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It was supposed to be free, easy and safe.
But online banking is nowadays neither free nor absolutely safe for the eight million Australians who prefer to let their fingers do the walking.
The Australian Federal Police and the banking industry believe online banking fraud is the world's fastest-growing crime.
And with increasingly sophisticated security regimes needed to fight cyber crime, consumers are set to pay more to bank online.
Three of Australia's five biggest banks - the Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac - and a number of smaller financial institutions charge customers internet fees.
Banks say online banking fees are needed to fight cyber criminals.
This week NAB announced it would add an additional layer of security by using mobile phone text message technology for customers completing third party payments.
There are no fee increases related to NAB's initiative.
But last week Commonwealth Bank bumped up its online transaction fees in a $100 million next-generation online services and security overhaul.
All of the bank's 1.9 million internet bank users would be using the new system - and paying the extra fees - by the end of June.
An international money transfer will cost Commonwealth customers $22 per transfer and to import files, such as payroll details, $2.50 per file.
Under new scheme, the first three third-party payment transactions and scheduled bill payments per calendar month will be free, but after that customers will have to pay 50 cents per transaction.
The fees reflect part of the vast complex array of internet banking fees which most consumers now accept as a fact of life.
But it was not supposed to be.
According to the Australian Consumers Association (ACA) spokeswoman Lisa Tait, consumers had been led to believe internet banking was free.
"The strategy was to get people used to online banking when it was free and once they've developed the habit to charge them for it," Ms Tait said.
"It's an extremely cynical ploy on behalf of the banks.
"But consumers don't need to feel they don't have a choice because they can shop around."
Ms Tait rejects the argument that online banking fees are needed to fight online crime.
"We think it's a bit off actually using internet security as a reason why they have to up their fees," she said.
"What about those banks and credit union who don't charge.
"We think it really has to do with returning profits to shareholders - that's the bottom line."
ACA's website flickyourbank.com.au has listings of all fees charges by banks, building societies and credit unions in Australia.
According to the site, of the five biggest banks only the ANZ and St George don't charge internet transactions fees and say they have no plans to change their minds.
While many institutions don't charge, some do - like wounded bulls.
Citibank charges $2.00 and the University Credit Society $1.00 - but most levy a fee of between 20 and 50 cents a transaction.
Many financial institutions have a certain amount of free internet transactions - for a monthly fee.
For other transaction fees kick in after a certain number of transactions.
NAB's personal banking spokesman Andrew McConville said his bank's online fees online fees were "competitive".
He denied the charge that some banks have pushed online fees by stealth.
"I think we've been very up front and transparent with internet banking for a long time," Mr McConville said.
"Our fees are very competitive especially in flat monthly fees.
"Outside those monthly fees we are also very competitive."
But ANZ spokesman Paul Andrews said the bank was not about to change its no-fee position.
"We've always taken the view that internet banking is one of the lower cost channels in terms of what it costs us to deliver," he said.
"We are very keen to put that as part of our package to customers and ... as a way to build business."
© 2005 AAP
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