E-BANKING – IMPACT, RISKS, SECURITY
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The evolution of electronic banking (e-Banking) started with the use of automatic teller machines (ATMs)
and has included telephone banking, direct bill payment, electronic fund transfer and online banking.
According to some, the future direction of e-banking is the acceptance of mobile telephone (WAP-enabled)
banking and interactive-TV banking. However, it has been forecast by many that online banking will
continue to be the most popular method for future electronic financial transactions.
Electronic funds transfer (EFT), refers to the computer-based systems used to perform financial
transaction electronically. The term is used for a number of different concepts including electronic
payments and cardholder-initiated transactions, where a cardholder makes use of a payment card such as
a credit card or debit card. Card-based EFT transactions are often covered by the ISO 8583 series of
Keywords : e-banking, e-commerce, e-banks.
In order for customers to use their banks online services they need to have a personal computer and
Internet connection. Their personal computer becomes their virtual banker who will assist them in their
banking errands. Examples of e-banking services that customers can get online are:
Attaining information about accounts and loans,
Conducting transfers amongst different accounts, even between external banks,
Buying and selling stocks and bonds by depot,
Buying and selling fund shares39
These services that are offered by e-banking are changing and being improved because of the intense
competition between the banks online. Banking industry must adapt to the electronics age, which in its turn
is changing all the time.
EFT transactions require authorisation and a method to authenticate the card and the card holder. Whereas
a merchant may manually verify the card holder's signature, EFT transactions require the card holder's PIN
to be sent online in an encrypted form for validation by the card issuer. Other information may be included
in the transaction, some of which is not visible to the card holder (for instance magnetic stripe data), and
some of which may be requested from the card holder (for instance the card holder's address or the CVV2
security value printed on the card).
EFT transactions are activated during e-banking procedures. Various methods of e-banking include:
Short Message Service (SMS) banking
Interactive-TV banking .
Independent of location or time, you can execute your payments and stock market orders and you get
detailed information on your accounts and custody accounts.
Impact of e-banking on traditional services
One of the issues currently being addressed is the impact of e-banking on traditional banking players. After
all, if there are risks inherent in going into e-banking there are other risks in not doing so. It is too early to
have a firm view on this yet. Even to practitioners the future of e-banking and its implications are unclear.
It might be convenient nevertheless to outline briefly two views that are prevalent in the market.
The view that the Internet is a revolution that will sweep away the old order holds much sway. Arguments
in favour are as follows:
E-banking transactions are much cheaper than branch or even phone transactions. This could turn
yesterday’s competitive advantage - a large branch network, into a comparative disadvantage,
allowing e-banks to undercut bricks-and-mortar banks. This is commonly known as the "beached
E-banks are easy to set up so lots of new entrants will arrive. ‘Old-world’ systems, cultures and
structures will not encumber these new entrants. Instead, they will be adaptable and responsive. E-
banking gives consumers much more choice. Consumers will be less inclined to remain loyal.
E-banking will lead to an erosion of the ‘endowment effect’ currently enjoyed by the major UK banks.
Deposits will go elsewhere with the consequence that these banks will have to fight to regain and
retain their customer base. This will increase their cost of funds, possibly making their business less
viable. Lost revenue may even result in these banks taking more risks to breach the gap.
Portal providers, are likely to attract the most significant share of banking profits. Indeed banks could
become glorified marriage brokers. They would simply bring two parties together – eg buyer and seller,
payer and payee.
The products will be provided by monolines, experts in their field. Traditional banks may simply be left
with payment and settlement business – even this could be cast into doubt.
Traditional banks will find it difficult to evolve. Not only will they be unable to make acquisitions for cash
as opposed to being able to offer shares, they will be unable to obtain additional capital from the stock
market. This is in contrast to the situation for Internet firms for whom it seems relatively easy to attract
There is of course another view which sees e-banking more as an evolution than a revolution.
E-banking is just banking offered via a new delivery channel. It simply gives consumers another service
(just as ATMs did).
Like ATMs, e-banking will impact on the nature of branches but will not remove their value.
Traditional banks are starting to fight back.
The start-up costs of an e-bank are high. Establishing a trusted brand is very costly as it requires significant
advertising expenditure in addition to the purchase of expensive technology (as security and privacy are
key to gaining customer approval).
E-banks have already found that retail banking only becomes profitable once a large critical mass is
achieved. Consequently many e-banks are limiting themselves to providing a tailored service to the better
Nobody really knows which of these versions will triumph. This is something that the market will
determine. However, supervisors will need to pay close attention to the impact of e-banks on the traditional
banks, for example by surveillance of:
earnings and costs
merger opportunities and threats.
Strategic Risk - A financial institution’s board and management should understand the risks associated
with e-banking services and evaluate the resulting risk management costs against the potential return on
investment prior to offering e-banking services. Poor e-banking planning and investment decisions can
increase a financial institution’s strategic risk. On strategic risk E-banking is relatively new and, as a result,
there can be a lack of understanding among senior management about its potential and implications. People
with technological, but not banking, skills can end up driving the initiatives. E-initiatives can spring up in
an incoherent and piecemeal manner in firms. They can be expensive and can fail to recoup their cost.
Furthermore, they are often positioned as loss leaders (to capture market share), but may not attract the
types of customers that banks want or expect and may have unexpected implications on existing business
Banks should respond to these risks by having a clear strategy driven from the top and should ensure that
this strategy takes account of the effects of e-banking, wherever relevant. Such a strategy should be clearly
disseminated across the business, and supported by a clear business plan with an effective means of
monitoring performance against it.
Business risks - Business risks are also significant. Given the newness of e-banking, nobody knows much
about whether e-banking customers will have different characteristics from the traditional banking
customers. They may well have different characteristics. This could render existing score card models
inappropriate, this resulting in either higher rejection rates or inappropriate pricing to cover the risk. Banks
may not be able to assess credit quality at a distance as effectively as they do in face to face circumstances.
It could be more difficult to assess the nature and quality of collateral offered at a distance, especially if it
is located in an area the bank is unfamiliar with (particularly if this is overseas). Furthermore as it is
difficult to predict customer volumes and the stickiness of e-deposits (things which could lead either to
rapid flows in or out of the bank) it could be very difficult to manage liquidity.
Of course, these are old risks with which banks and supervisors have considerable experience but they need
to be watchful of old risks in new guises. In particular risk models and even processes designed for
traditional banking may not be appropriate.
Transaction/operations risk - Transaction/Operations risk arises from fraud, processing errors, system
disruptions, or other unanticipated events resulting in the institution’s inability to deliver products or
services. This risk exists in each product and service offered. The level of transaction risk is affected by the
structure of the institution’s processing environment, including the types of services offered and the
complexity of the processes and supporting technology.
In most instances, e-banking activities will increase the complexity of the institution’s activities and the
quantity of its transaction/operations risk, especially if the institution is offering innovative services that
have not been standardized. Since customers expect e-banking services to be available 24 hours a day, 7
days a week, financial institutions should ensure their e-banking infrastructures contain sufficient capacity
and redundancy to ensure reliable service availability. Even institutions that do not consider e-banking a
critical financial service due to the availability of alternate processing channels, should carefully consider
customer expectations and the potential impact of service disruptions on customer satisfaction and loyalty.
The key to controlling transaction risk lies in adapting effective polices, procedures, and controls to meet
the new risk exposures introduced by e-banking. Basic internal controls including segregation of duties,
dual controls, and reconcilements remain important. Information security controls, in particular, become
more significant requiring additional processes, tools, expertise, and testing. Institutions should determine
the appropriate level of security controls based on their assessment of the sensitivity of the information to
the customer and to the institution and on the institution’s established risk tolerance level.
Credit risk - Generally, a financial institution’s credit risk is not increased by the mere fact that a loan is
originated through an e-banking channel. However, management should consider additional precautions
when originating and approving loans electronically, including assuring management information systems
effectively track the performance of portfolios originated through e-banking channels. The following
aspects of on-line loan origination and approval tend to make risk management of the lending process more
challenging. If not properly managed, these aspects can significantly increase credit risk.
Verifying the customer’s identity for on-line credit applications and executing an enforceable contract;
Monitoring and controlling the growth, pricing, underwriting standards, and ongoing credit quality of
loans originated through e-banking channels;
Monitoring and oversight of third-parties doing business as agents or on behalf of the financial
institution (for example, an Internet loan origination site or electronic payments processor);
Valuing collateral and perfecting liens over a potentially wider geographic area;
Collecting loans from individuals over a potentially wider geographic area;
Monitoring any increased volume of, and possible concentration in, out-of-area lending.
Liquidity, interest rate, price/market risks - Funding and investment-related risks could increase with an
institution’s e-banking initiatives depending on the volatility and pricing of the acquired deposits. The
Internet provides institutions with the ability to market their products and services globally. Internet-based
advertising programs can effectively match yield-focused investors with potentially high-yielding deposits.
But Internet-originated deposits have the potential to attract customers who focus exclusively on rates and
may provide a funding source with risk characteristics similar to brokered deposits. An institution can
control this potential volatility and expanded geographic reach through its deposit contract and account
opening practices, which might involve face-to-face meetings or the exchange of paper correspondence.
The institution should modify its policies as necessary to address the following e-banking funding issues:
Potential increase in dependence on brokered funds or other highly rate-sensitive deposits;
Potential acquisition of funds from markets where the institution is not licensed to engage in banking,
particularly if the institution does not establish, disclose, and enforce geographic restrictions;
Potential impact of loan or deposit growth from an expanded Internet market, including the impact of
such growth on capital ratios;
Potential increase in volatility of funds should e-banking security problems negatively impact
customer confidence or the market’s perception of the institution.
Reputational risks - This is considerably heightened for banks using the Internet. For example the Internet
allows for the rapid dissemination of information which means that any incident, either good or bad, is
common knowledge within a short space of time. The speed of the Internet considerably cuts the optimal
response times for both banks and regulators to any incident.
Any problems encountered by one firm in this new environment may affect the business of another, as it
may affect confidence in the Internet as a whole. There is therefore a risk that one rogue e-bank could
cause significant problems for all banks providing services via the Internet. This is a new type of systemic
risk and is causing concern to e-banking providers. Overall, the Internet puts an emphasis on reputational
risks. Banks need to be sure that customers’ rights and information needs are adequately safeguarded and
Security is one of the most discussed issues around e-banking.
E-banking increases security risks, potentially exposing hitherto isolated systems to open and risky
Security breaches essentially fall into three categories; breaches with serious criminal intent (fraud, theft of
commercially sensitive or financial information), breaches by ‘casual hackers’ (defacement of web sites or
‘denial of service’ - causing web sites to crash), and flaws in systems design and/or set up leading to
security breaches (genuine users seeing / being able to transact on other users’ accounts). All of these
threats have potentially serious financial, legal and reputational implications.
Many banks are finding that their systems are being probed for weaknesses hundreds of times a day but
damage/losses arising from security breaches have so far tended to be minor. However some banks could
develop more sensitive "burglar alarms", so that they are better aware of the nature and frequency of
unsuccessful attempts to break into their system.
The most sensitive computer systems, such as those used for high value payments or those storing highly
confidential information, tend to be the most comprehensively secured. One could therefore imply that the
greater the potential loss to a bank the less likely it is to occur, and in general this is the case. However,
while banks tend to have reasonable perimeter security, there is sometimes insufficient segregation
between internal systems and poor internal security. It may be that someone could breach the lighter
security around a low value system.
It is easy to overemphasise the security risks in e-banking. It must be remembered that the Internet could
remove some errors introduced by manual processing (by increasing the degree of straight through
processing from the customer through banks’ systems). This reduces risks to the integrity of transaction
data (although the risk of customers incorrectly inputting data remains). As e-banking advances, focusing
general attention on security risks, there could be large security gains.
Financial institutions need as a minimum to have:
a strategic approach to information security, building best practice security controls into systems
and networks as they are developed
a proactive approach to information security, involving active testing of system security controls
(e.g. penetration testing), rapid response to new threats and vulnerabilities and regular review of
market place developments
sufficient staff with information security expertise
active use of system based security management and monitoring tools
strong business information security controls.
These are the issues line supervisors will be raising with their banks as part of their on-going supervision.
In conclusion e-banking creates issues for banks and regulators alike. For their part, banks should:
Have a clear and widely disseminated strategy that is driven from the top and takes into
account the effects of e-banking, together with an effective process for measuring
performance against it.
Take into account the effect that e-provision will have upon their business risk exposures and
manage these accordingly.
Undertake market research, adopt systems with adequate capacity and scalability, undertake
proportional advertising campaigns and ensure that they have adequate staff coverage and a
suitable business continuity plan.
Ensure they have adequate management information in a clear and comprehensible format.
Take a strategic and proactive approach to information security, maintaining adequate staff
expertise, building in best practice controls and testing and updating these as the market
develops. Make active use of system based security management and monitoring tools.
Ensure that crisis management processes are able to cope with Internet related incidents.
One of the benefits that banks experience when using e-banking is increased customer satisfaction. This
due to that customers may access their accounts whenever, from anywhere, and they get involved more,
this creating relationships with banks.
Banks should provide their customers with convenience, meaning offering service through several
distribution channels (ATM, Internet, physical branches) and have more functions available online. Other
benefits are expanded product offerings and extended geographic reach. This means that banks can offer a
wider range and newer services online to even more customers than possible before.
The benefit which is driving most of the banks toward e-banking is the reduction of overall costs. With e-
banking banks can reduce their overall costs in two ways: cost of processing transactions is minimized and
the numbers of branches that are required to service an equivalent number of customers are reduced.
With all these benefits banks can obtain success on the financial market. But e-banking is a difficult
business and banks face a lot of challenges.
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