Despite the recent controversy surrounding SET and Barclays' and Nat West's change of plan, why has Nationwide gone ahead with its online banking plans?
Who do you believe and would you give them your hard earned cash? It seems the online world wants to run before it can walk and is prepared to put your earnings up as security.
In April PC Week told you about Visa's Steve Mott, who criticised SET cryptography for being too easy to crack. Mott, who, contrary to the rumours, wasn't fired, went on to say SET would be cracked within a year.
Of course, none of this information reached the national press, so public awareness was pretty low. Low enough, in fact, for Visa to use SET as the basis for its pilot for secure payments over the Internet, just five weeks after Mott expressed his reservations.
Then, last week, PC Week published an article on NatWest and Barclays' decisions to defer their plans for online banking, because they were worried about the level of security they could offer customers. It just isn't ready yet was the crystal clear message from both camps, "and we wouldn't risk our customers' security ... would we?" But hasn't the Nationwide just launched the UK's "first" online banking service?
In fact, the Nationwide is not the first online banking service in the UK. The Royal Bank of Scotland was first, closely followed by the TSB.
According to research carried out by NatWest and Barclays, there is nearly #16 billion worth of business to be had every year in online banking.
Could it be such a carrot is too big a prize to ignore? Are we to trust financial institutions with our money in an environment no-one completely understands, particularly when we know there are risks that haven't been properly addressed.
Even the police are looking at ways to tighten the grip on 'electronic crime'. They are being supported by the National Criminal Intelligence Service, which is becoming increasingly concerned about the next generation of viruses and hacking techniques.
Is there a better team of security experts at Nationwide than at Barclays and Natwest? After all, this would explain why it is so relaxed about security.
Maybe Nationwide's security is up to it and Mott was being overly harsh on the SET spec. Maybe the police are just over-reacting. But from where I'm sitting, unless I get a letter, guaranteeing my money is safe from all electronic attacks, I'll stick to the phone.
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