Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Online Banking: Is It Right for Me?

A reader recently asked: Can you give me some advantages and disadvantages of doing online banking? Is it accessible? I'm not sure if I should start using it or not.

That's an excellent question! I'm sure you all know that you can handle your banking on the Internet now. It's been around for awhile, but more and more people are taking advantage of it every day. But, as with anything else on the Internet these days, there are myths of it being of a bad interest, while others say it's the greatest thing in the world. Below, you'll find some pros and cons for this banking method and I'll just let you decide for yourself!

Before I go any further and just for your information, most banks and credit unions offer some form of online banking these days. It's also known as PC banking, home banking, electronic banking or even Internet banking. The banks who offer this service have been working for several years to find the best possible way to provide online banking to their customers so that they will be able to use it easily and more importantly, trust it. Feature accessibility will vary so if you do decide to give it a try, log onto your bank's website and check that the features you want are compatible with your screen reader/assistive technology.

Pros

- One of the big advantages of online banking is that it's a big time saver. It doesn't try to change the way you handle your money, but it does save you time from sitting down and writing out all those checks. It also speeds up the amount of time it takes for a transaction to process. It sometimes even gets it done faster than an ATM. As a totally blind person, you don't even have to fool with writing a check, or getting someone to assist you!

- Online banks are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you never have to worry about the bank closing, having transportation to the bank or not being able to get your transactions done in time. It's all just a mouse click away!

- If you're out of state on vacation or even out of the country, you can still do your banking. If a money problem comes up, you just have to either find a computer or use the internet features of your notetaker and it can be taken care of any time of the day.

- Without having to keep track of paper checks, you save money on buying those and you're able to handle your banking more efficiently. Along with efficiency, you can access and manage all of your bank accounts from one secure Website, no more having to memorize long strings of numbers to get to your account.

- Online banking sites are starting to offer more banking tools that you can use to get your business done easier and faster. Some of these tools include account aggregation, stock quotes, rate alerts, portfolio managing, etc. These help you complete your banking in a more effective manner.

Cons

- Now, even though online banking is supposed to be timely, sometimes the site can take awhile to load or even come up on your computer. If the site is having any type of trouble on any given day, it could prevent you from handling your banking. You always have to be prepared for something like that to happen.

- You do have to register on your bank's Website before you can begin any banking. You will probably have to provide a user ID and a password, which you may have to get from your bank's branch office. This could take some time, which is a big disadvantage if you're in a hurry to get started. Also, if you're married and want to manage your account along with your husband or wife, you may have to go through a power of attorney type of thing to be able to access the same account. This just depends on the bank you work with.

- You have to take some time to learn your bank's Website. This can take a little while, depending on how easy or difficult your bank makes the site design. You'll definitely need to sit down and learn the site before you do any transactions. You may need to run through the tutorials as well, which can take up your time. Remember, not all features may work for you.

- Banks like to change their site design without any prior notice. If this happens, you'll have to learn it all over again. Also, if they do this, it's possible you would have to sign up again and re-enter your information.

- One of the biggest things with online banking is the trust issue. Should you jump right in and trust the world of online banking? You may often wonder if your transaction really did go through or not, did you happen to do it more than once on accident, etc. You can always print your records each time you visit the site, but it's still a trust issue you have to handle yourself.

Well, there you have it. What do you think? Will you do online banking or not? It's all up to you, but at least you know both sides of the issue!

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