HSBC cost cutting part 1,137

Dropped into our local HSBC bank branch this morning to pay a few cheques in and carry out a few transfers.

Richard on the front desk, however, completely floored me when he mentioned the latest wheeze by HSBC to cut costs - install self- service Internet banking terminals in the branch.

The idea is that punters, sorry, customers, will be able to access their bank accounts online inside the branch, rather than hassle the counter staff for mundane things like inter-account transfers and balance checks.

Call me picky, but every time I stagger into the branch and see a customer on the (free) phone to the telephone banking service, I can quite clearly overhear their conversation.

I also try to be quite careful when accessing the HSBC Internet banking service, only logging in from the office or home PC, and never from a third-party terminal, especially an Internet cafe.

So it comes as something of a shock to hear that HSBC is encouraging customers to access their Internet banking service at a public terminal inside the branch.

Well-worn security issues such as shoulder surfing, and general rubbernecking immediately spring to mind.

HSBC's Net banking service enquires users to enter three numbers from a registered number string, their birthdate and an ID number.

This makes the customer logon sequence fairly secure on a single session basis, but multiple sessions will, in my humble opinion, give thieves a ready arsenal of numbers to gain unauthorised access to your Internet banking accounts.

HSBC will undoubtedly come up with some cogent arguments about how Net banking from inside the branch is secure. Myself, I think it's an eavesdropper's paradise....