The Realm Of Online Banking in Jamaica – NCB and Scotiabank compared
Most of us should know the saying “time is money” and or “time wasted is never regained” (or something to that extent) so most of us should have experienced the pain and loss of precious time that often goes with standing in at times horrendously long lines waiting to pay bills, other expenses or other business/financial transactions. Well with the advances in technology many things have gone online and our local banks are no exception. All of the top banks locally does or should facilitate some sort of electronic banking, there are about 4 or so banks locally but the two which are most familiar (mainly due to the fact that they have been here for like forever) and that usually comes to our mind are National Commecial Bank (NCB) and Scotiabank and thus those are the two banks that will be the topic of discussion throughout this article.
Ease of Access
Lets start with ease of access, one can access NCB online banking from going to their website www.jncb.com and otherwise from a prompt or two about installing software (usually java) and that one has already called NCB, to configure and activated their online log in credentials then it is as easy as choosing their preferred online banking option from the online banking drop down menu located at the top of the site whether “personal” or “business” and its a simple matter of entering ones log in credentials. While for Scotiabank it is not really quite that simple, first of all Scotia seems to have two or so different websites a “Scotia Online” www.scotiaonline.scotiabank.com and a “Scotia Internet Banking” www.scotiabank.com why they have two sites I’m not sure it would seem one is for “Financial Services” and the other is for “Internet Banking” one would think that was also a “Financial Service” but I digress, so which ever the case what I can tell you is that for most people it may quite possibly cause some confusion and one may find themselves on the wrong site enter their correct credentials and yet getting no where fast.
As for security NCB has the basic security infrastructure user name and password and if there is an incorrect entry of the password more than three times leads to a hold being placed on your account which you would then need to provide your debit card serial to and other credentials to reset your account but other wise from the credentials required to log in and then a confirmation/verification credentials (different from log on credentials this one is used when one successfully logs on) is required to complete any transaction, all altercations, additions and confirmations (e.g. yes subtract this said amount from my account) are governed and or protected by this password.
Apart from the similar requirement to contact Scotiabank to activate ones online service Scotia on the other hand takes a different approach in regards to their security, their system is some what more secured some may even fine it too secure (I for one don’t think when it comes to my financial information and access to my account that there can be such a thing as “TOO” secured). To log on to your Scotia account one needs to provide their account key/serial, then a password after which one is prompted to enter their answer to a secret question, this is one of four secret questions answer/password which rotate on each log on so in a sense one is never actually (or should not be) asked the same secret question twice in a row and there is a separate credential (Access Code) which is used internally (once you have successfully logged on) for altering information which one has already entered into their account so in a sense its almost like a triple layer of protection. In regards to information recovery just in case one forgets their passwords (I have not experience this issue as yet) but in the case of the Access Code this is where the view of too secured may occur to reset your Access Code if you have forgotten it, it requires you to enter your Last Name, Mother’s Maiden Name, Home Phone Number and Date Of Birth (Talk about security huh?) keep in mind that your Access Code governs all the information that you have already entered so in the case you forget it you really cannot make several changes from within your account even if you do successfully log on (just some food for thought) so I take it changing ones password if they forget it should be equally interesting. As might be expected the first two layers may become tedious for some and one can opt to create an alternate logon to use as a replacement instead of having to enter the digits from their account and they can also opt to remember the computer which is being used so they can bypass the secret question (this is usually only recommended for personal computers and not public machines).
Interface and Usability
The interfaces of both online systems are relatively the same one can check on their various accounts, pay bills (such as JPS, NWC, FLOW, LIME etc..), get text notification (which I use with my NCB account not sure if its offered by Scotia) on account transaction changes , value of over seas currencies etc…. I have paid bills using both NCB and Scotia but I have only paid for credit card charges directly off my NCB account (it is an NCB issued credit card) but I’m sure Scotia offers something similar. Even though the Scotia interface looks slightly cluttered compared to NCB their system tends to be more detailed e.g. when printing bill receipts for NCB you basically only get a transaction number (used to query bill payments) which is rather vague while Scotia gives you a transaction number, date, amount paid etc…. just overall cleaner, more appealing (in the case of the information that is given) just over all a better presentation. There are several advance features for both sites but I have yet have the need to delve into the belly of the beast.
In terms of speed Scotia clearly has the faster site I’m not sure if its due to the backend or or what not but sometimes the loading times on the NCB site are so ridiculous that the browser will actually freeze up (I kid you not) which then leads me to logging in all over again this can be very annoying and I can imagine rather painful if this ever occurred during a transaction (fortunately I have not experienced that) I have tried them both in several browsers IE (Internet Explorer), Firefox, Opera etc…. and while I tend not to have any issue with Scotia in any browser whenever I’m going to NCB I usually make sure I load it in IE since it seems to be more stable under that environment.
Overall whether its NCB, Scotia, RBTT etc…. I would recommend that one activates or check to see if their is an online option to paying bills and other expenses at any bank which they are members of it saves A LOT of time and the ease of checking to see the “real time” amount on your credit cards, or of your account, it is especially helpful if one is doing business transactions and needs or wants to monitor the funds entering and leaving their account I’m sure for others there are several others reasons but those are some of the main reasons why I find online banking so useful.