Monthly Archives: June 2017

Internet Banking

internet banking, e-banking or virtual banking, is an electronic payment system that enables customers of a bank or other financial institution to conduct a range of financial transactions through the financial institution’s website. The online banking system will typically connect to or be part of the core banking system operated by a bank and is in contrast tobranch banking which was the traditional way customers accessed banking services.

To access a financial institution’s online banking facility, a customer with internet access will need to register with the institution for the service, and set up a password and other credentials for customer verification. The credentials for online banking is normally not the same as for telephone or mobile banking. Financial institutions now routinely allocate customers numbers, whether or not customers have indicated an intention to access their online banking facility. Customer numbers are normally not the same as account numbers, because a number of customer accounts can be linked to the one customer number. Technically, the customer number can be linked to any account with the financial institution that the customer controls, though the financial institution may limit the range of accounts that may be accessed to, say, cheque, savings, loan, credit card and similar accounts.

The customer visits the financial institution’s secure website, and enters the online banking facility using the customer number and credentials previously set up. The types of financial transactions which a customer may transact through online banking are determined by the financial institution, but usually includes obtaining account balances, a list of the recent transactions, electronic bill payments and funds transfers between a customer’s or another’s accounts. Most banks also enable a customer to download copies of bank statements, which can be printed at the customer’s premises (some banks charge a fee for mailing hard copies of bank statements). Some banks also enable customers to download transactions directly into the customer’s accounting software. The facility may also enable the customer to order a cheque book, statements, report loss of credit cards, stop payment on a cheque, advise change of address and other routine actions.

Online banking facilities typically have many features and capabilities in common, but also have some that are application specific. The common features fall broadly into several categories:

  • A bank customer can perform non-transactional tasks through online banking, including –
    • Viewing account balances
    • Viewing recent transactions
    • Downloading bank statements, for example in PDF format
    • Viewing images of paid cheques
    • Ordering cheque books
    • Download periodic account statements
    • Downloading applications for M-banking, E-banking etc.
  • Bank customers can transact banking tasks through online banking, including –
    • Funds transfers between the customer’s linked accounts
    • Paying third parties, including bill payments and third party fund transfers
    • Investment purchase or sale
    • Loan applications and transactions, such as repayments of enrollments
    • Credit card applications
    • Register utility billers and make bill payments
  • Financial institution administration
  • Management of multiple users having varying levels of authority
  • Transaction approval process

Some financial institutions offer special internet banking services, for example:

  • Personal financial management support, such as importing data into personal accounting software. Some online banking platforms support account aggregation to allow the customers to monitor all of their accounts in one place whether they are with their main bank or with other institutions.

Financial Audit

A financial audit is conducted to provide an opinion whether “financial statements”are stated in accordance with specified criteria. Normally, the criteria are international accounting standards, although auditors may conduct audits of financial statements prepared using the cash basis or some other basis of accounting appropriate for the organisation. In providing an opinion whether financial statements are fairly stated in accordance with accounting standards, the auditor gathers evidence to determine whether the statements contain material errors or other misstatements. The audit opinion is intended to provide reasonable assurance, but not absolute assurance, that the financial statements are presented fairly, in all material respects, and/or give a true and fair view in accordance with the financial reporting framework. The purpose of an audit is to provide an objective independent examination of the financial statements, which increases the value and credibility of the financial statements produced by management, thus increase user confidence in the financial statement, reduce investor risk and consequently reduce the cost of capital of the preparer of the financial statements.

In accordance with the US GAAP, auditors must release an opinion of the overall financial statements in the auditor’s report. Auditors can release three types of statements other than an unqualified/unmodified opinion. The unqualified auditor’s opinion is the opinion that the financial statements are presented fairly. A qualified opinion is that the financial statements are presented fairly in all material respects in accordance with US GAAP, except for a material misstatement that does not however pervasively affect the user’s ability to rely on the financial statements. A qualified opinion can also be issued for a scope limitation that is of limited significance. Further the auditor can instead issue a disclaimer, because there is insufficient and appropriate evidence to form an opinion or because of lack of independence. In a disclaimer the auditor explains the reasons for withholding an opinion and explicitly indicates that no opinion is expressed. Finally, an adverse audit opinion is issued when the financial statements do not present fairly due to departure from US GAAP and the departure materially affects the financial statements overall. In an adverse auditor’s report the auditor must explain the nature and size of the misstatement and must state the opinion that the financial statements do not present fairly in accordance with US GAAP.

Financial audits are typically performed by firms of practicing accountants who are experts in financial reporting. The financial audit is one of many assurance functions provided by accounting firms. Many organizations separately employ or hire internal auditors, who do not attest to financial reports but focus mainly on the internal controls of the organization. External auditors may choose to place limited reliance on the work of internal auditors. Auditing promotes transparency and accuracy in the financial disclosures made by an organization, therefore would likely reduce such corporations concealmeant of unscrupulous dealings. Internationally, the International Standards on Auditing (ISA) issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) is considered as the benchmark for audit process. Almost all jurisdictions require auditors to follow the ISA or a local variation of the ISA.

Bank Transfer

Bank transfer or credit transfer is a method of electronic funds transfer from one person or entity to another. A wire transfer can be made from one bank account to another bank account or through a transfer of cash at a cash office. Different wire transfer systems and operators provide a variety of options relative to the immediacy and finality of settlement and the cost, value, and volume of transactions. Central bank wire transfer systems, such as the Federal Reserve’s FedWire system in the United States are more likely to be real time gross settlement (RTGS) systems. RTGS systems provide the quickest availability of funds because they provide immediate “real-time” and final “irrevocable” settlement by posting the gross (complete) entry against electronic accounts of the wire transfer system operator. Other systems such as CHIPS provide net settlement on a periodic basis. More immediate settlement systems tend to process higher monetary value time-critical transactions, have higher transaction costs, and a smaller volume of payments. A faster settlement process allows less time for currency fluctuations while money is in transit.

Bank wire transfers are often the cheapest method for transferring funds between bank accounts. A bank wire transfer is effected as follows:

  1. The entity wishing to do a transfer approaches a bank and gives the bank the order to transfer a certain amount of money. IBAN and BIC codes are given as well so the bank knows where the money needs to be sent.
  2. The sending bank transmits a message, via a secure system (such as SWIFT or Fedwire), to the receiving bank, requesting that it effect payment according to the instructions given.
  3. The message also includes settlement instructions. The actual transfer is not instantaneous: funds may take several hours or even days to move from the sender’s account to the receiver’s account.
  4. Either the banks involved must hold a reciprocal account with each other, or the payment must be sent to a bank with such an account, a correspondent bank, for further benefit to the ultimate recipient.

Banks collect payment for the service from the sender as well as from the recipient. The sending bank typically collects a fee separate from the funds being transferred, while the receiving bank and intermediary banks through which the transfer travels deduct fees from the money being transferred so that the recipient receives less than what the sender sent.

With bank-to-bank wire transfer, each account holder must have a proven identity. Chargebacks are unlikely, although wires can be recalled. Information contained in wires are transmitted securely through encrypted communications methods. The price of bank wire transfers varies greatly, depending on the bank and its location; in some countries, the fee associated with the service can be costly. Wire transfers done through cash offices are essentially anonymous and are designed for transfer between persons who trust each other. It is unsafe to send money by wire to an unknown person to collect at a cash office; the receiver of the money may, after collecting it, not provide whatever goods or services they promised in return for the payment, but instead simply disappear. This scam has been used often, especially in the so-called 419 scams which often nominate Western Union for collection.

International transfers involving the United States are subject to monitoring by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which monitors information provided in the text of the wire and then decides whether, according to the US Government’s federal regulations and political positions, money is being transferred to terrorist groups, or countries or entities under sanction by the United States government. If a financial institution suspects that funds are being sent from or to one of these entities, it must block the transfer and freeze the funds. SWIFT or IBAN wire transfers are not completely free of vulnerabilities. Every intermediary bank that handles a wire transaction can take a fee directly out of the wire payload (the assets being transferred) without the account holder’s knowledge or consent. In many places, there is no legislation or technical means to protect customers from this practice. If bank S is the sending bank (or brokerage), and bank R is the receiving bank (or brokerage), and banks I1, I2 and I3 are intermediary banks, the client may only have a contract with bank S and/or R, but banks I1, I2 and I3 can (and often do) take money from the wire without any direct arrangement with the client. Clients are sometimes taken by surprise when less money arrives at bank R. Contrast this with cheques, where the amount transferred is guaranteed in full, and fees (if there are any) can be charged only at endpoint banks.

Mobile banking

Mobile banking is a service provided by a bank or other financial institution that allows its customers to conduct financial transactions remotely using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Unlike the related internet banking it uses software, usually called an app, provided by the financial institution for the purpose. Mobile banking is usually available on a 24-hour basis. Some financial institutions have restrictions on which accounts may be accessed through mobile banking, as well as a limit on the amount that can be transacted. Transactions through mobile banking may include obtaining account balances and lists of latest transactions, electronic bill payments, and funds transfers between a customer’s or another’s accounts. Some apps also enable copies of statements to be downloaded and sometimes printed at the customer’s premises; and some banks charge a fee for mailing hardcopies of bank statements.

From the bank’s point of view, mobile banking reduces the cost of handling transactions by reducing the need for customers to visit abank branch for non-cash withdrawal and deposit transactions. Mobile banking does not handle transactions involving cash, and a customer needs to visit an ATM or bank branch for cash withdrawals or deposits. Many apps now have a remote deposit option; using the device’s camera to digitally transmit cheques to their financial institution. Mobile banking differs from mobile payments, which involves the use of a mobile device to pay for goods or services either at thepoint of sale or remotely, analogously to the use of a debit or credit card to effect an EFTPOS payment.

Typical mobile banking services may include:

  • Account information
  1. Mini-statements and checking of account history
  2. Alerts on account activity or passing of set thresholds
  3. Monitoring of term deposits
  4. Access to loan statements
  5. Access to card statements
  6. Mutual funds / equity statements
  7. Insurance policy management
  • Transaction
  1. Funds transfers between the customer’s linked accounts
  2. Paying third parties, including bill payments and third party fund transfers(see, e.g., FAST)
  3. Check Remote Deposit
  • Investments
  1. Portfolio management services
  2. Real-time stock quotes
  3. Personalized alerts and notifications on security prices
  • Support
  1. Status of requests for credit, including mortgage approval, and insurance coverage
  2. Check (cheque) book and card requests
  3. Exchange of data messages and email, including complaint submission and tracking
  4. ATM Location
  • Content services
  1. General information such as weather updates, news
  2. Loyalty-related offers
  3. Location-based services

A report by the US Federal Reserve (March 2012) found that 21 percent of mobile phone owners had used mobile banking in the past 12 months. Based on a survey conducted by Forrester, mobile banking will be attractive mainly to the younger, more “tech-savvy” customer segment. A third of mobile phone users say that they may consider performing some kind of financial transaction through their mobile phone. But most of the users are interested in performing basic transactions such as querying for account balance and making bill payment.

  • Future functionalities in mobile banking

Based on the ‘International Review of Business Research Papers’ from World business Institute, Australia, following are the key functional trends possible in world of Mobile Banking. With the advent of technology and increasing use of smartphone and tablet based devices, the use of Mobile Banking functionality would enable customer connect across entire customer life cycle much comprehensively than before.

Illustration of objective based functionality enrichment In Mobile Banking:

  • Communication enrichment: – Video Interaction with agents, advisors.
  • Pervasive Transactions capabilities: – Comprehensive “Mobile wallet”
  • Customer Education: – “Test drive” for demos of banking services
  • Connect with new customer segment: – Connect with Gen Y – Gen Z using games and social network ambushed to surrogate bank’s offerings
  • Content monetization: – Micro level revenue themes such as music, e-book download
  • Vertical positioning: – Positioning offerings over mobile banking specific industries
  • Horizontal positioning: – Positioning offerings over mobile banking across all the industries
  • Personalization of corporate banking services: – Personalization experience for multiple roles and hierarchies in corporate banking as against the vanilla based segment based enhancements in the current context.
  • Build Brand: – Built the bank’s brand while enhancing the “Mobile real estate”.