The virus exposing how inconsistent online banking actually is, people being judgy

There’s a line of cars at my Regions and Suntrust. There’s a line of cars at the Wells Fargo down the street. Every Friday and the first of the month there’s a line of cars on the street.

The neighborhood groups as well as a few news stations encouraging people to stay away from anything because all of this can be done online.

Except that it can’t. It’s bank by bank and device by device. In some cases internet connection by internet connection.

TL;DR – online banking isn’t a universally accessible thing, try and not shame people for having to go to banks during lockdowns as it’s probably the bank’s fault.

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A few days ago as a picture of a local bank which had been shut down and was being scrubbed by a hazmat team was posted in a local forum the comments turned to that this was because morons couldn’t figure out how to online bank. Meh the poors. etc.

Putting aside that the internet is not the same for everyone, only a little over half the population of the planet is on it, not everyone has a particularly good device to access it, and during these times not everyone can even pay for it or find free hotspots to attempt to do their business on, the comment really stunk of elitism combined with a basic lack of understanding of how different of an experience online banking is bank to bank and phone to phone.

As part of my day job because I live in bank central I drop off checks at multiple banks when I’m done at the office. Prior to the virus I had to drop these off in person because the banks had very low limits on remote check deposits for businesses like ours unless we wanted to have a much higher balance and/or pay for the services. Even then no.

Now with the virus we’re finding out that even with higher limits the Android software is hit or miss and the iOS software seems to connect when it wants to. iOS versions just work, or doesn’t. Even getting into the banks online portals as they ushered people over is proving to be a problem.

Let’s take a look at my day so far as a small business person and as an employee who generally would be running checks to banks.

Regions: Android software works for remote check deposit. Website takes a couple of minutes to load at this point. Yay. I have few issues with this. I have one check a month I have to drop by there and deal with a person because the software refuses to believe 1100 is a valid amount.

“The amount you entered and the amount detected are different”

No way to say “please have a human look at this and don’t make me drive two miles.”

Whatever, that’s one a month, their ATM generally accepts it which you would think would be the same issue. For me, Regions is acceptable. I need multiple accounts however because I deal with … multiple accounts… can’t do that? Great.

Ascend FCU: Android software supposedly will allow checks to deposit, will not take a picture of a check. Will not work on my Note 8 or any device I have. Says it will capture automatically. Reviews on the Play Store tend to indicate I’m nowhere near alone in the battle to try and remote deposit.

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I go to the website to verify a charge and am greeted that my computer is no longer known. I have to be emailed a login code to my gmail account. I did this well before I got to this point in the article and am still waiting on that to show.

I finally gave up and attempted logging in through the app which uses biometrics and that took about two minutes.

The screen waiting for me to enter the code timed out at I’m guessing fifteen minutes and I still had not received an email.

Suntrust: no small business remote deposits from a phone, personal accounts keeps disappearing from their portal login necessitating you to go there, present ID, and have it set back up (next time I do will be my third round. I am out for Covid-19 and cannot access my kid’s education fund, not that I need to really.)

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Other great thing is sometime in the morning your balances are always off. It’s 3am or so, I’m up trying to balance a spreadsheet and not pull my hair out over finances and suddenly I’m presented with numbers that I don’t know where they come from – they’re several thousand off what it should be. 6am or so they’re back to normal. Maintenance.

I deal with five other banks for work. Let’s simplify the article and say each one has similar hurdles to overcome, are also local enough to track me down and beat me because they can, and due to the mass influx of people onto the online portals I think pushing development at this point sort of like trying to open the barn doors when 320 million cows are pressed up against them.

Online banking kind of sucks, and you start noticing that when you deal with a lot of places. You don’t know when you sign up for Bank X that your phone two years from now is not going to be supported.

There’s no evident standards for check capture. Banks all seem to be doing their own thing rather than licensing from one or two companies that can actually do it correctly and keep developing for all devices.

You also don’t know when you start banking with a place that their shiny new banking app is never seeing an update ever again. Now, more than ever when things start returning to normal we need to press for these apps and services to not suck and be a priority.

We’ve had more than enough once in a lifetime events in the past seven years of March 2020 to realize that at some point we’re going to face a shutdown, lockdown, qurantine, etc again within a decade or two. Maybe next time at least the banking industry’s apps will work.

But yeah, most banks apps and problem handling online suck. For every good experience you have, someone else is probably having a pretty bad one. Don’t discount that.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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