The state of online banking and online transactions looks bleaker every day. Back when the only way your data was stolen was when a “hacker” intercepted it, I was confident that 128-bit encryption was going to protect us forever. Now, with data being stolen at the destination , or when it’s being backed up , or when it’s being processed by a third party  – we need some serious thought to the actual benefits of online banking.
- Statements – Seriously, finding a statement online is usually about a million times faster and easier than looking for it in your files, if you even keep nice and orderly files.
- Billpay – A double-edged sword, Online Billpaying can automate the paying of your bills, if you remember to set it up. And if you don’t do it automatically, you sometimes might forget to do it month to month. However, if you do utilize it, paying bills at the last minute could earn you a few extra bucks (both in interest and in stamps) a year for doing little more than typing a few words and clicking a few buttons.
- Direct Deposit of Paychecks – What’s easier: having your paycheck automatically deposited in your bank account, or, receiving a check in the mail, signing it, driving it to the bank and depositing it? How about what gets dollars into your account, and earning interest, faster? Everyone should have direct deposit.
- Transfers – Doing this online, with no waiting, is so much faster than driving to the ATM or branch (or calling and navigating a frustrating voice menu system). You save on gas and your valuable time.
- “Real Time” Balances – You can check your balance and know where you stand anytime you want with nearly real-time data.
Even with all the data being lost, the benefits of online banking are obvious and might outweigh the risk of a bank losing your data. Personally, I always conduct as much business as possible online because the recent stories you’ve heard could happen to strictly off-line banks. Loss of data during a backup? Loss of data due to theft from the inside? It’s all possible even if your bank doesn’t have a website. What do you think?