There was a time, not too many years ago, when almost all banking transactions required a visit to the local branch. The introduction of cash machines (ATMs), initially for taking out cash and later for other transactions, substantially reduced the number of visits required.
With the advent of the internet, online banking became increasingly popular and still is. But today's innovative technologies have allowed further progression to mobile banking via tablets and smartphones, meaning that few (if any) visits to the bank itself are actually necessary.
With plenty of facts and figures available regarding online scams and frauds, the question remains as to how safe carrying out virtual transactions really is. What steps are banks taking to protect us from misuse of our information and money?
Within the bank itself there are tried and tested ways of keeping money safe and preventing fraudulent activity. Not only does every branch have CCTV in place, whenever a transaction takes place both a computer and a paper record is made of it.
In most cases it will also be necessary to confirm the transaction by entering a PIN or by producing certain forms of photographic identification and proof of address.
The ultimate convenience factor that online banking offers means that literally millions of transactions take place every day. All of the major banks offer this service, so it is possible to carry out almost any banking transaction digitally, the exception being that of paying in cash or cheques.
Each bank offers its own form of encryption and security to access a bank account online, using a variety of customer-instigated methods. These usually involve an initial verification process when online banking is first set up, as well as a series of passwords, PINs and security questions having to be negotiated before access to account details is allowed.
Some banks also operate a 'card reader' system that has to be followed for certain transactions, like adding a new payee for example. It is possible to compare information about all of the major online banking providers with MoneySupermarket.
Mobile banking offers the same levels of functionality as online banking. In addition, a new breed of technology is now allowing 'contactless payments' via mobile devices, meaning that a transaction can be completed without the need to enter a PIN.
It is still the case that accessing the internet via Wi-Fi enabled devices is less secure than via broadband, so the levels of security required to gain access to account details are considerably greater.
As well as the usual passwords and PINs needed for online banking, mobile device users have additional passwords provided by their bank specifically for their device. This means that were the device to be lost or stolen, the levels of encryption and security required would be virtually impossible to break.
It is not usually the bank's own security measures that causes any problems; it is third parties that use online tactics such as key logging or 'phishing' to obtain bank details with the full intention of misusing them.
Along with banking technologies, banking security has increased at the same pace. Banks are doing everything in their power to protect their customers' money and identities and it is very much down to the individual to do the same and to protect their financial information just as stringently.