Alliance & Leicester says security is driving online growth

High quality, highly visible internet security is driving growth at Alliance & Leicester, according to its head of internet banking.

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High quality, highly visible internet security is driving growth at Alliance & Leicester, according to its head of internet banking.

Speaking to Computerworld UK, Andy Muddimer said security improvements including two factor authentication had helped reassure customers that it was safe to bank online, and to see A&L as a good destination.

“We’ve really enhanced our security in the last two years,” he stated. “In 2006 we introduced two-way, two factor authentication and we were the first bank in the UK to do that.”

In March last year, A&L introduced the authentication system, which added a second layer of security by not only checking customers’ security tokens, but also taking a record of their computer and hardware to enable it to recognise or reject people trying to access accounts online.

The company also asks each new customer to choose a picture, and write a test question and a phrase, in order to enable them to be sure they are definitely on the correct website and have not been diverted to a rogue site.

“It’s really contributed to our overall business growth. People thought the internet was not safe but (we have shown) it is,” Muddimer said, suggesting that much of the bank’s growth comes from a more positive customer perception. A survey that A&L ran last year among customers demonstrated that 90% saw its security as “excellent” or “good,” and 83% were only happy to enter their PIN number after seeing the image and phrase they had chosen.

Muddimer claimed other banks would follow A&L’s model, though he added that A&L had the advantage of concentrating the changes on its retail and business customers which are all in the UK, whereas other banks had the more “complicated” challenge of serving a mixture of international customers.

Other banks have taken a different route by issuing card readers to their customers, with Barclays and RBS the most notable. HSBC recently decided against issuing card readers, and to stick with its own fraud monitoring only.

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