Online banking

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Online banking (or Internet banking) allows customers to conduct financial transactions on a secure website operated by their retail or virtual bank, credit union or building society.



Online banking solutions have many features and md capabilities in common, but traditionally also have some that are application specific.

The common features fall broadly into several categories
  • Transactional (e.g., performing a financial transaction such as an account to account transfer, paying a bill, wire transfer, apply for a loan, new account, etc.)
  • Non-transactional (e.g., online statements, cheque links, cobrowsing, chat)
    • Viewing recent transactions
    • Downloading bank statements, for example in PDF format
    • Viewing images of paid cheques
  • Financial Institution Administration
  • Management of multiple users having varying levels of authority
  • Transaction approval process
Features commonly unique to Internet banking include
  • 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.


The precursor for the modern home online banking services were the distance banking services over electronic media from the early 1980s. The term online became popular in the late '80s and referred to the use of a terminal, keyboard and TV (or monitor) to access the banking system using a phone line. ‘Home banking’ can also refer to the use of a numeric keypad to send tones down a phone line with instructions to the bank. Online services started in New York in 1981 when four of the city’s major banks (Citibank, Chase Manhattan, Chemical and Manufacturers Hanover) offered home banking services[1] using the videotex system. Because of the commercial failure of videotex these banking services never became popular except in France where the use of videotex (Minitel) was subsidised by the telecom provider and the UK, where the Prestel system was used.

The UK's first home online banking services[2] was set up by Bank of Scotland for customers of the Nottingham Building Society (NBS) in 1983.[3] The system used was based on the UK's Prestel system and used a computer, such as the BBC Micro, or keyboard (Tandata Td1400) connected to the telephone system and television set. The system (known as 'Homelink') allowed on-line viewing of statements, bank transfers and bill payments. In order to make bank transfers and bill payments, a written instruction giving details of the intended recipient had to be sent to the NBS who set the details up on the Homelink system. Typical recipients were gas, electricity and telephone companies and accounts with other banks. Details of payments to be made were input into the NBS system by the account holder via Prestel. A cheque was then sent by NBS to the payee and an advice giving details of the payment was sent to the account holder. BACS was later used to transfer the payment directly.

Stanford Federal Credit Union was the first financial institution to offer online internet banking services to all of its members in October 1994.[citation needed]

Today, many banks are internet only banks. Unlike their predecessors, these internet only banks do not maintain brick and mortar bank branches. Instead, they typically differentiate themselves by offering better interest rates and online banking features.


Protection through single password authentication, as is the case in most secure Internet shopping sites, is not considered secure enough for personal online banking applications in some countries. Basically there exist two different security methods for online banking.

  • The PIN/TAN system where the PIN represents a password, used for the login and TANs representing one-time passwords to authenticate transactions. TANs can be distributed in different ways, the most popular one is to send a list of TANs to the online banking user by postal letter. The most secure way of using TANs is to generate them by need using a security token. These token generated TANs depend on the time and a unique secret, stored in the security token (two-factor authentication or 2FA). Usually online banking with PIN/TAN is done via a web browser using SSL secured connections, so that there is no additional encryption needed.

Another way to provide TANs to an online banking user is to send the TAN of the current bank transaction to the user's (GSM) mobile phone via SMS. The SMS text usually quotes the transaction amount and details, the TAN is only valid for a short period of time. Especially in Germany and Austria, many banks have adopted this "SMS TAN" service as it is considered very secure.

  • Signature based online banking where all transactions are signed and encrypted digitally. The Keys for the signature generation and encryption can be stored on smartcards or any memory medium, depending on the concrete implementation.


Most of the attacks on online banking used today are based on deceiving the user to steal login data and valid TANs. Two well known examples for those attacks are phishing and pharming. Cross-site scripting and keylogger/Trojan horses can also be used to steal login information.

A method to attack signature based online banking methods is to manipulate the used software in a way, that correct transactions are shown on the screen and faked transactions are signed in the background.

A recent FDIC Technology Incident Report, compiled from suspicious activity reports banks file quarterly, lists 536 cases of computer intrusion, with an average loss per incident of $30,000. That adds up to a nearly $16-million loss in the second quarter of 2007. Computer intrusions increased by 150 percent between the first quarter of 2007 and the second. In 80 percent of the cases, the source of the intrusion is unknown but it occurred during online banking, the report states.[2]

The most recent kind of attack is the so-called Man in the Browser attack, where a Trojan horse permits a remote attacker to modify the destination account number and also the amount.


There exist several countermeasures which try to avoid attacks. Digital certificates are used against phishing and pharming, the use of class-3 card readers is a measure to avoid manipulation of transactions by the software in signature based online banking variants. To protect their systems against Trojan horses, users should use virus scanners and be careful with downloaded software or e-mail attachments.

In 2001 the FFIEC issued guidance for multifactor authentication (MFA) and then required to be in place by the end of 2006.[3]

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Online-Banking — Online Banking,   Electronic Banking …   Universal-Lexikon

  • online banking — also Internet banking n [U] a service provided by banks so that people can find out information about their bank account, pay bills etc using the Internet …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • online banking — noun uncount a system that allows you to communicate with your bank on the Internet …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • online banking — UK US noun [uncountable] a system that allows you to communicate with your bank on the Internet Thesaurus: internethyponym general words relating to bankinghyponym …   Useful english dictionary

  • Online-Banking — Der Begriff Electronic Banking bezeichnet beleglos und in elektronischer Form abgewickelte Bankgeschäfte. Synonyme für den Begriff sind E Banking, Onlinebanking, Telebanking und seltener auch Elektronisches Bankgeschäft (E Bank).… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Online Banking — Der Begriff Electronic Banking bezeichnet beleglos und in elektronischer Form abgewickelte Bankgeschäfte. Synonyme für den Begriff sind E Banking, Onlinebanking, Telebanking und seltener auch Elektronisches Bankgeschäft (E Bank).… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Online Banking — The performance of banking activities via the Internet. Online banking is also known as Internet banking or Web banking. A good online bank will offer customers just about every service traditionally available through a local branch, including… …   Investment dictionary

  • Online-Banking — Bezeichnung für Bankgeschäfte, die mit dem PC von zuhause oder von einem Unternehmen erledigt werden können. Beim Online Banking verbindet sich der Kunde mittels Mobiltelefon, Modem oder Netzwerk mit dem Rechner seiner Bank. Der Kunde kann seine… …   Online-Wörterbuch Deutsch-Lexikon

  • online banking — /ˌɒnlaɪn bæŋkɪŋ/ noun a system by which customers have bank accounts which they can access direct from their home computers, using the Internet, and can carry out operations such as checking on their account balance, paying invoices and receiving …   Dictionary of banking and finance

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