Thanks to Internet banking or online banking, you can now handle most of your banking needs without visiting the banking hall. Internet banking services bring the bank to you. It is easy to use, convenient, and offers you 24/7 access to your bank account.
But is it safe? Internet banking is as safe as you make it. Your Internet banking login details is a major target of identity theft schemes. Like with ATM cards, anyone with your Internet banking details can access your account and depending on the persons knowledge, can steal your money or at least cause a malicious damage. So knowledge of Internet banking security is essential.
Internet banking in Nigeria
Most banks in Nigeria now offer Internet banking services to their customers. Granted, some are there to make up the numbers, but a few are good. Some of the leading Nigerian banks with Internet banking platforms include GTB, Zenith bank, Diamond bank, Stanbic IBTC, UBA, and FirstBank.
Internet banking has come a long way in Nigeria, from the early days of offering limited banking services on their Internet banking platforms to today when almost all banking trasactions can be closed online.
The most popular banking services offered by Nigerian banks on their internet banking platforms include: viewing account balances, viewing account activity/statement, checking exchange rates, Transferring funds between your accounts within the same bank, and paying bills and taxes.
By buying an Internet banking security token from your bank (if they offer one) or using one-time passwords, you will be able to do third party transfer to other accounts within and outside your bank as well as exchange foreign currency to Naira on your internet banking platform. All these you can do in the comfort of your home or office or even while on the move.
However, some Internet banking platforms of Nigerian banks still leaves out some essential services, for example new account applications, currency exchange, cheque book requests, ATM/Debit/Credit card requests still require a visit to the bank.
In the past, some banks did not offer the needed security like on-screen keyboard on their Internet banking platform, but hopefully this has changed.
Despite these little drawbacks, Internet banking is still recommended as it enables you to conveniently access your bank account and perform banking transaction from anywhere almost 24/7.
Features of an Internet banking platform
Internet banking enables easy access to your bank account. To reduce the risk of another person accessing your account, Internet banking platforms require authentication. Most Internet banking platforms offer 2-factors authentication, usually:
- Technical factors: What you have (eg. a security token or one time password)
- Personal factors: What you know (eg. your password or PIN)
To improve security, a third factor (the human factors: what you are), requiring biometrics (iris scan, thumb print scan) may also be added to your Internet banking platform, though this is not common.
Banks sometimes offer limited Internet banking services with 1-factor authentication, requiring only your PIN. If you are using 1-factor authentication on your Internet banking platform, you will not be able to do third party transfer of funds from your account to other accounts within and outside your bank. With 1-factor authentication, you can transfer money between your accounts within the same bank. This is the case with GTB Internet banking platform.
Your bank may also offer a security token, which will increase your security to 2-factors authentication. With your PIN and security token (2-factors), you will then be able to do third party transfers and change foreign currencies with your internet banking platform. With your security token, the GTB Internet Banking platform empowers you to do more transactions.
Some banks will use One-Time-Password, instead of security token on their internet banking platform. If your bank uses One-Time-Password on their internet banking platform, a password will be sent to your mobile number via SMS to authorise certain transactions. You will then have to enter the one time password into the internet banking platform to authorise that particular transaction.
With a GTB security token, you can transfer from your account to other GTB accounts and accounts belonging to other banks. You can sales foreign currency in your DOM account and have them transferred to your Naira denominated accounts using the GTB internet banking token.
The GTB Internet banking token also empowers you to do standing orders to both GTB accounts and other bank account. In fact, with GTB internet banking token the only reason for visiting a bank or ATM will be to make a personal withdrawal or deposit.
A security token is a small device that enable you prove your identity (authenticate) electronically. It may or may not be connected to your computer. Security tokens connected to your computer (via RFID, USB, NFC, Bluetooth) transmit a unique number that identifies you to your computer. This number is changed frequently within an internet banking transaction.
Some security tokens do not transmit automatically to the computer, they simply display a unique number, which you enter manually in the appropriate field in your internet banking platform. The GTB Internet banking security token does not transmit automatically. It just displays a random number, which you must enter within a short time or you will be required to retry the transaction.
An Internet banking platform will usually offer an On-screen keyboard for entering your PIN. An on-screen keyboard offers some security, as they prevent keyloggers from capturing your PIN. A keylogger is a malware installed in your computer by hackers to capture key presses on your keyboard, and transmit to their site.
They can then use this information to access your Internet banking account. By avoiding the use of a keyboard for entering your PIN, an Internet banking platform with on-screen display, provides additional security. However, some banks in Nigeria do not offer, on-screen keyboards, making their internet banking platforms less secure. GTB Internet banking platform offers on-screen keyboard.
Once you login to your Internet banking platform you will see links or buttons that allows you to perform a number of tasks, like:
- viewing account balances
- viewing account activity/statement
- checking exchange rates
- checking Bank Interest rates
- Transferring funds between your accounts within the same bank
- paying bills and taxes
- third party transfer to other accounts within and outside your bank, etc
Benefits of Internet banking
Despite the security risks, Internet banking is recommended for all, especially if you have your own internet access. It makes banking easy. The benefit of Internet banking is convenience. You can handle most of your banking needs in the comfort of your home or office. You can access your bank account 24/7 (some transactions may not be available 24/7). Check Interest and Exchange rates from anywhere.
Assuming you just wrote a cheque to someone but do not have enough money in your current account, you can use your Internet banking platform to transfer funds from your savings account to your current account, in the comfort of your home or office.
This ensures that the cheque does not bounce, saving your credibility. You can also transfer funds from your domiciliary account to your MasterCard or Visa debit card account without leaving your home. If you have security token, you can even transfer funds to your clients on your Internet banking platform. Sit at home and check whether that money you requested have been sent or whether that cheque has cleared, No need visiting the bank until you are sure.
Internet banking services will save you time, if you have internet access you should ask your bank for Internet banking today, however GTB, Stanbic IBTC and Zenith bank have very good reputation with internet banking services.
What you need for Internet banking
Internet banking requires internet access. It is preferable that you have your own internet access, as accessing your Internet banking platform from a cyber cafe can be risky. You also need a fast network, as most Internet banking platform requires speed. If you are using a GSM network make sure you are on EDGE, but the best for Internet banking is 3G or 3.5G. You can use GPRS if that is what is available, but the user experience will be poor.
You will also need a security token, but this may be optional. An Internet banking security token improves your Internet banking security and enables you to handle more of your banking transactions online.
With less than N4,500 you can get an internet banking security token from your bank in Nigeria. GTB offers their internet banking security token for N3,000 the last time we checked. Some banks do not require security token, you just use one time password. Inquire from your bank how to enable third party transactions on your internet banking platform.
Then of course, you need a computer, it may be a desktop, laptop, or even a tablet. Make sure you have the latest anti-virus software and firewall installed. These will improve your Internet banking security. You may also buy software that enhances your browser security. Some banks like GTB and Zenith also offer internet banking on mobile.
Internet banking is convenient and saves time; ask your bank for Internet banking today. You can apply online at the bank’s website or visit the bank. Some of the leading Nigerian banks with Internet banking platforms include GT Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Zenith bank, Diamond bank, UBA, and FirstBank. Some popular internet banking platforms from major International financial institutions include HSBC Internet banking, Barclay’s online banking, etc. Apply for Internet banking services at your bank.