Introduction to Online Banking

Internet has dramatically transformed the way we manage our finances, and online banking is one of these tools that now allows us to do many types of bank transactions from the comfort of our home. This is an overview of how online banking websites generally work.

Most banks these days offer online banking services. This service grants you access to bank account information for queries, such as looking up your balance and bank transactions and for transactions, such as bank transfers, paying bills or simply ordering new cheque books or contracting a new service, such as a term deposit. Each bank has its own website and layout, and they do differ from bank to bank, but here is an overview of the basics you need to know to get started with online banking.

The first step to using online banking is to visit your bank’s website and research the procedure for signing up, which most likely can be started online. The sign up button is usually very prominent, if not, use the search tool to locate instructions for signing up. For security reasons, the sign up process may require you to sign paperwork at your local branch.

Once signed up for the service you can log into the website and access your information. Banking websites are extremely secure and usually require more than just a username and password. Usually a third passcode is required, which generated using a coordinates card, or even using a small card reader which requires your debit card to generate a unique passcode each time.

Beware! Hackers may be able to steal or guess your username and password, especially if you use the same username and password for multiple sites. By introducing something physical to generate a unique passcode, like a coordinate’s card, or a debit card reader, criminals will not be able to access your account without also physically stealing whatever it is your bank has provided you for this extra security.

Once logged in, you will usually see an overview of your accounts, showing a list of them with their balances. How you access your information from here will vary from bank to bank, but usually there is a “View History” or “View Transactions” link you can click to access a current bank statement. You may also be provided with a download link to download a copy of your statement.

In the Transactions or Operations section there will be a link to transfer money or pay service bills, such as your electricity and phone. Here you may also be able to save the account information for transfers you regularly make. There will be another section you can use to order cheque books and other services online, sometimes even including small loans.

When using online banking, safety is paramount. Review our previous articles on choosing a safe password (June 2014), Phishing emails (December 2014), SSL security (February 2015), and “The little black computer book” article in June 2014. Also make use of contacts you have in the bank for help, as well as the online FAQ articles on the bank’s website.