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Banking
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Tears over three-tier

RMB Private Bank, in line with owner First National Bank, introduced a third-tier Internet security level with its One Time PIN during the period 18th – 22nd March 2007. But all WAs not well. But before we go into that, here’s how it is supposed to work.

Up to recently clients were required to enter their User ID and 6-8 digit password to gain access to their Internet banking. If desired an optional ‘DigiTag’ was available at an extra cost. The client had to buy a separate gizmo that he switched on when starting up his Internet banking. This device would then display a unique 8-digit code he had to enter to complete his log on. This Gigi-Tag method is evidently to be phased out by mid-June.
One Time PIN (OTP) provides a similar service but is compulsory. It uses cellphone or email technology to convey the 8-digit code. Users may opt to receive the code via either service, with the other as back up. Email would probably take longer. Cellphone OTP should occur within a few seconds.
But, as FNB noted, “We cannot guarantee delivery times due to cellular network and Internet Service Provider traffic congestion. However, in most cases it should take between a few seconds and a minute for the OTP to be delivered.”
The OTP is a unique 8-digit security PIN that you will receive each time you log in to the system. “The OTP lasts for a single Online Banking session,” says FNB. “As soon as you log out, it becomes invalid. Hence, each time that you log in you will receive a different OTP.
“If your Online Banking session runs out, you would also need to log in again, and will be sent another new OTP. Just make sure that you use the most recently received OTP or you will find that the session will not be available.”
Clients will be able to view statements and make predefined payments without using the OTP. So normally you would conduct enquiry and transactions of this nature first while waiting for the OTP.
However, the OTP will be required for anything where changes are being made, or for example, you are making a once off payment. Banking instructions such as stop orders and cancellations will, of course, also require the OTP.
The new system will allow clients to conduct banking from overseas, but their OTP will only be sent via email. “So before you depart, change your primary OTP delivery mechanism to email (if is not already the case),” notes FNB.
During the changeover clients are asked to ensure their account and recipient details are correct when they first login to Online Banking using OTP.

Online hassles

As an RMB client I carefully read about the new requirements and thought I understood them well enough. On 22nd March 2007 I was unable log onto my personal bank account. I was not presented with an OTP window. After 10 minutes I had to give up. I phoned the ‘help line’ offered (the FNB Call Centre) and finally got a message about ‘we are experiencing an unusually large volume of calls……. Etc’.
I was in any case disconnected, so I sent an email requesting assistance but never received a response — at least not by 1st April.
On 26th March I tried to use the service again, and this time got an OTP window after the second attempt but when I selected ‘continue’ the code would not run. In any case no statements were visible at all. Clicking the ‘continue’ button several times proved a waste of time. I phoned a different number - the one for RMB customers – but got the ‘unusually large number of calls’ ploy. After waiting ages I had to put the phone down.
Next day I called the local RMB office to be told the normal contact person had resigned and gone to work for Pinnacle. I do wonder why I was not given a courtesy call about my new contact. Maybe there isn’t one any more?
The branch arranged for a technician to call me, but he took four hours, and then used the cellphone number when I was in a meeting. I had requested them to call my landline — that’s where the computer was.
I said I would call when I got back to the office and was able to deal with the matter. Though he said he would be available up to 20.00 hours, I got a automated response at 18.10, ‘Our office hours are from 8.00 to five…. Etc’ — pretty bright that. Said technician had not phoned back by the time of going to press.
RMB Private Bank launched itself as a ‘private’ and ‘personal’ service.
Many years ago, the cheque book was introduced as a personal service and anyone who had an account gladly accepted cheques without question. Then too many accounts got created without sufficient credentials, banks lost the plot, and now there are many companies that don’t accept cheques at all. It seems banks these days are trying to price them off the planet.
Then credit cards were introduced. Anyone with one of those was equally highly regarded as those who had used the first cheque books. Now cards have gone the same way. Many people, especially those who can’t afford them and millions of criminals use credit cards every day. Indeed, who have no idea how to manage money own more credit cards than shoes or comics. It is very rare to be able to use a card these days without the transaction being confirmed before you leave the retail store.
Even a gold credit card has as little stature as your local video rental identity card.
I wonder if private banking is the next to go the same way?
And will it be spoilt by commercialism, with so many people having such things as the One Account facility without being properly accredited that it no longer comes with a personal service, nor carries any rarity value?

Anyone else had problems with RMB – or indeed FNB - about this Internet security change? I have written to the company CEO Sean Farrell, and local divisional manager Anton van der Vyver, but not heard anything yet.
It is over a week I have not been able to use my bank account. I am going to have to start using my cheque book again. By Nigel Benetton 

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:20.3 1st April, 2007
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