Get the balance right: banking security needn’t be at the expense of convenience

How do you get the balance right between customer service and security? The battle between banks and fraudsters is ongoing, with banks losing millions each year through fraud.

In addition, the rise of digital and mobile banking over the past few years has led to banks investing heavily in their fraud and security measures. These authentication devices alongside integrated malware detection and fraud monitoring systems can be a barrier to a satisfying, simple customer experience. How do banks protect their customers’ assets and data, without compromising service levels and writing off millions of pounds to ‘acceptable fraud losses’ every year?

Knowledge sharing

Fraudsters are agile and communicate through online channels to exploit weaknesses in banks’ infrastructure and systems. The anonymity provided by the web allows fraudsters to utilize social networks to co-ordinate attacks, sell malware and user credentials, and discuss bank fraud defences and vulnerabilities.

Compare this with banks, which are typically slow to react and do not join forces or share any information about their defences or specific fraudster behaviours.  


Mobile banking has grown rapidly over the past three years and is set to increase, with an estimated 60% of the adult population owning a smart phone. John Wilson, Head of Security at Agari, an enterprise security tools and analytics firm, has been following the increase in mobile-specific attacks. He believes we will soon see large malware-based threats to mobile devices released through unofficial mobile app stores. In addition, the perceived reduced levels of security are one of the main barriers to using mobile banking and payments. For banks to grow their mobile and digital channels, they must first invest in the security of their apps and mobile platforms, and persuade customers that they are safe to use.

User experience versus security

Fraud and Security departments face a serious challenge. Namely, how do you secure infrastructures while maintaining and improving customer experience? It’s all the more critical since so many online-banking transformation projects measure success (and ROI) based on increased logging volumes and sales results. Two key fraud prevention measures for banks are:

  • Educating their customers
  • Having clearly defined Fraud and Security policies (that would include regular password change, prohibiting use of spurious websites, etc)


The challenge for banks is to ensure customer experience is maintained while building a multi-layered approach to security that involves partnering with anti-fraud firms or acquiring security technologies.

A multi-layered approach means that banks are not dependent on any one system or technology, presenting multiple barriers to fraudsters. In addition, banks also need to ensure they take advantage of security features in the latest wave of mobile devices. The Apple fingerprint reader, for example, is both secure—and convenient. Exactly the balance that banks should aspire to.

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Comment by William MacLean on December 10, 2013 at 9:13pm

Same in Australia, $25.00 can be be charged without signing or PIN,

no authentication required. 

Comment by Alexander Samarin on December 10, 2013 at 8:46pm

Just recently a Swiss bank has issued visa cards with 40 CHF withdrawal WITHOUT entering the PIN. This was done WITHOUT asking the customer! Now any stolen visa card has value 40 CHF. At the same time, no extra security measure were  taken. No balance.



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