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The Danger of Putting Your Eggs In One Basket

Banks and building societies are increasingly subject to technology problems that have caused issues with access to funds, transferring money or the payment of bills1. The latest, involving Nationwide Building Society meant that some customers were unable to access funds or had to wait for wages to reach their accounts in two separate incidents within days of each other.

Many of these issues have centred around mobile and internet banking and gaining access to accounts. However, the alarming prospect of having a debit or credit card refused at a busy checkout and the worry caused by being unable to withdraw funds from ATMs is becoming an increasing concern to many consumers.2 This is particularly true in areas that are losing or have lost their branch and their ATM is broken or simply rejects the card.

According to findings from The Telegraph3, the advances in technology are also causing issues for older customers where personal services at branches are disappearing as well as the branches themselves. In their place, the insistence on pushing customers towards an online relationship with their bank is causing age discrimination and confusion.

When the technology works well, it is revolutionising the way we deal with money and is to be applauded. However, our reliance on it, as highlighted by the number of outages, makes us all potentially vulnerable.

There are a number of strategies that can help –

  1. Open a current account with a small overdraft facility with another provider thereby reducing the risk of two providers going down at the same time.
  2. Keep an independent credit card especially for the times when you need to pay for goods if your current provider is having an outage. Just remember to pay off any balances within the free credit period.
  3. Post Office branches provide facilities to cash cheques, forward money to your bank and also withdraw cash.

The important thing to remember is that technology and its applications are here to stay. When it goes wrong, which it will do from time to time, we must have contingency plans to help us when things aren’t working.

If you have older relatives talk to them about the easiest ways to protect them from the likely problems caused by technology. Find alternative solutions for managing their money by using a post office or a building society branch for the personal service they feel they need where possible, rather than struggling with a digital world that is alien.

Sources:

  1. Money Expert (2021) Outage Leaves Nationwide Customers Unable to Send or Receive Money. Available at: https://www.moneyexpert.com/news/outage-leaves-nationwide-customers-unable-to-send-or-receive-money/ (Accessed 26 Jan 2022)
  2. Smith, Nina (2021) 5 Common Problems with ATM Machines and How to Solve Them. Available at: https://citizenjournal.net/problems-with-atm-machines/ (Accessed 26 Jan 2021)
  3. The Telegraph (2007) Pensioners struggling as banks close. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1542150/Pensioners-struggling-as-banks-close.html (Accessed 26 Jan 2022)
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