Technology can be a wonderful thing when it works while creating unwanted problems when it fizzles out. When I listen to someone who knocks technology by constantly complaining that it doesn’t work properly, I shift the conversation toward electronic banking since I know the person uses it a lot; the downplaying of bad tech suddenly goes away. That was the pattern of our usual discussions on technology for many years; however, things began to change where it was getting harder to use this argument in defending my appreciation of all things that make up tech.

Society today has become extremely dependent on using technology to the point where people are unaware or chose to ignore the negative side these advancements can pose.  That is why I feel it is important to discuss the risks involved with a specific advancement meant to make people’s lives easier; online banking.

Banking from our mobile devices

There was a time, believe it or not, where if an individual wanted to take money out of there checking or savings account, he/she would have to go to the closest bank to take money out or possibly write a check for a certain amount and hope a store would cash it. Advancements in technology over the decades have made it easier to go to the nearest Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to take money out of your account or deposit money into it. 

In fact, many stores are accepting an individual paying for an item by using their cellphones, Samsung Pay or Apple Pay, as it electronically sends the necessary info to the cash register to complete the transaction. Basically, most items can be purchased without providing actual cash but instead through debit/credit cards, store charge cards or using cellphones such as with Samsung or Apple Pay. 

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While these methods make it more convenient for the consumer, the problem is not what happens if these methods become compromised but when they are compromised.

The opportunities brought on by advancements in technology have created many jobs for people to take advantage of. Unfortunately, these same advancements have created a situation where individuals use technology to steal from others using hacking. Within this decade alone, how many stories have been heard in the news regarding store charge cards systems being hacked and user’s personal data being stolen? 

The risks of sharing your personal info online

December of 2013 turned out to be horrific for roughly forty million people who discovered Target had been hacked in which data regarding debit and credit card accounts had been stolen. While this incident sent shock waves throughout the world revealing the need for everyone to improve a better way to secure vital information, this is one example of how risky it is to pay for items using electronic methods.

What about customers who use their cellphones to pay for items they wish to purchase? Well, my understanding is that to make a purchase, a one-time pin number is generated so that financial information can be obtained to complete the purchase. Then, the pin number is no longer valid and a new one-time pin is generated every time a financial transaction is made. 

The problem becomes that it is not unheard of for cellphones to contract a virus or get hacked. While the system these cellphones use offer better protection than your average store charge card and possibly debit/credit card, history has shown us that no system is fool proof and eventually someone can come along that finds a way to beat this security.

Isn’t online banking supposed to be secure?

Moving on to online banking, one would think that banks would have a security system that hackers wouldn’t get close enough to be able to gain access to customer’s personal data and money. However, several years ago, JP Morgan Chase, along with four other banks, were hacked and the culprit’s happened to be international thieves.

Apparently, whatever security that was being used to protect access to personal data besides the customer proved to have a flaw, so obviously their customers were more than mildly concerned that some stranger could now clean out their account from all the money that was in it. The sad issue is that even when a customer or simply an individual takes all the necessary precautions to protect their personal data and banking accounts, all it takes is one stranger to figure out how to bypass a bank’s security system and you can now say good-bye to your personal data and your banking accounts; so much for advancements in technology!

While it may sound like I am against technology and all the benefits it has offered over the many decades is farther from the truth. I love using my Apple products for some things and my Android products for other things. Online banking has been a blessing for millions of people and I love to be able to deposit a check into my account while sitting at my desk at home using my cellphone and banking app.

However, I pride myself at trying to look at both sides of an issue and while millions have benefited through electronic banking, millions more have had their banking accounts and personal data stolen away because of it. Individually, each of us needs to be aware of the benefits and pitfalls of paying for things electronically and decide if the rewards are worth the risk of electronic banking. What do you think?

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Seth Horowitz
Seth is an avid tech writer who currently lives in Las Vegas, NV. While he always had a passion for writing, his original goal was to combine business and writing and go into Advertising, but that didn't happen quite how he planned. He decided to go into education and became an English teacher in Brooklyn, NY. After teaching for many years, he made the move to the Las Vegas area in 2008 where he began his new career as a freelance writer, and has been doing so for over six years.