Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Internet banking with HSBC

After more than a year in Mexico coping with the inevitable lines at my bank branch (which is no different than other Mexican banks so far as I can tell) I finally committed to working through the signup procedure to gain access to my visa and checking account via the internet. I was resigned to facing a frustrating procedure, but in the event, the process went pretty smoothly. Perhaps this result is a testament to the fact my Spanish is really improving. I was actually able to figure out all the forms displayed and confidently make choices I was offered, or submit information the forms demanded.

Well, wouldn't you know, there was a crucial question on the last step in the process where I was asked to say yea or nay. I worried over that one because had I answered nay, about 45 minutes of suspenseful decision making would have been wasted. Finally, I was confident I understood what the program was asking and haltingly elected yea. Since the question was security related, I´m afraid you will just have to forgive me for not describing the details. If you yourself decide to go for online banking you can sweat that one like I did. Later I was able to confirm with a Mexican friend that I did in fact understand what I was about.

Perhaps one reason I did not have too much trouble with HSBC´s process relates to my long years of experience with home banking, which began almost from the time it was offered by my bank. As an early adopter I recognized there would be benefits but along with that would came some pain. However, because the bank was eager to entice customers into using online banking, when I did encounter problems, bank representatives adopted a very conciliatory attitude. Here in Mexico, I was not sure HSBC would do likewise. I hasten to say I have no complaints with HSBC in over a year doing business with them. The other sticking point, was over account security. Would HSBC provide a secure platform to bank on the web?

My fears are allayed. During the registration process I was subjected to inordinate scrutiny and had to provide three questions that no stranger could successfully devine answers to or devise a program to break on the basis of brute computer power. On top of the multiple security question precautions (which many financial sites are now implementing) HSBC offers a one time password (OTP) device that generates codes to use when accessing their servers. So it seems like everything is up to date in Mexico as far as keeping online financial transactions secure.

If you are still struggling with the cash only way of doing business and are tired of waiting in long lines at the bank, perhaps you should investigate electronic banking here in Xalapa. I can now pay my visa, electric, water, and telephone bills online. Who wants to waste time when they are retired?

Disclaimer: I did not read all ten pages of the contract, but then, I stopped reading financial contracts and web agreements years ago. Why change just because I live in a foreign country and the contract is written in Spanish? Even when agreements are written in English, who can understand the gobbledegook ? Can Spanish gobbledegook be any better?