One card-reader fits all for online banking

Reading time: 1 minute

Good news if you do online banking with several different banks.

You only need one card-reader.

The card-readers are all the same bar the branding.

So if you bank with Barclays, NatWest, Nationwide, RBS and no doubt others too, you can get away with only carrying one card-reader around with you.

I’ve tried it with a couple of the major banks and building societies and I can confirm that all cards and card readers are compatible.

They’re using the APAC – UK payments association – standard. There’s some background on this slightly out of date page on the APACs website

It’s still a pain to have to carry one around though. Puts a terrible bulge in the pocket!

Online barking with Banclays

Reading time: 1 minute

I’ve just received my PINsentry device from Barclays.

Pinsentry

It’s the size of a pocket calculator (remeber those?) or a largish mobile phone.

So to do online banking with Barclays, you now have to carry this device around with you everywhere you go as well as have your bank card handy.

This is meant to make things super-secure.

I don’t know about anyone else but I have five online bank accounts which I check fairly regularly. Does this mean I’m going to end up having to lug five of these devices around everywhere I go?

Perhaps someone could design bank-agnostic device that works for any bank card?

More on the PINsentry at BBC NEWS | Business | Barclays steps up online security

How to find the IMEI number on a mobile phone

Reading time: 1 minute

Key in *#06#

  1. Turn off your handset.
  2. Turn it on again.
  3. Allow the handset to load completely.
  4. Press the following keys one by one: * # 0 6 #
  5. Read the screen. As you press on the last #, a number will appear with the title IMEI number

[…]

If your mobile phone is stolen, call or go to the nearest service center of your mobile network, and give that IMEI number to staff and ask him to block that number for a period of time, so no one can use your mobile phone for any illegal purpose.

Source: WikiHow

This worked on my phone without having to turn if off and on again.

Chip and PIN

Reading time: 2 minutes

Chip and PIN as a method of payment has been in the UK for a couple of months now, and according to all the major card companies is the most secure system so far.

According to this info on UK government website crimereduction.gov.uk, the initiative is costing £1.1billion. This to combat plastic fraud which in 2002 cost £424.6million in the UK.

Since 1st January stores not using chip and PIN get less protection and insurance against fraud. This was used as the “incentive” to buy in early.

So what’s it like to use?

Not a great user experience for me so far. And canvassing opinion in a quick straw poll friends agree.

It wouldn’t take a lot to improve it. Train staff better. Make it easier for customers to use, no awkward leaning over the sweet rack on the sales counter…

I was just wondering why we don’t seem to have benefitted from what other countries have learnt.

Compared to France, where they’ve used chip and PIN for years, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. There the “PIN pads” usually have hoods which cover your hand enough so that others can’t see what your PIN is.

Here in the UK all the machines I’ve used so far are more like overweight pocket calculators.

They’re rarely on long enough leads, so you find yourself punching numbers in to the thing while it’s dangling in mid-air or being held by the sales assistant or waiter, many of whom seem bewildered by the new technology themselves.

I make a point of covering my number punching hand with my other hand but for some reason it all feels quite self-conscious, even though that’s what all the advice says.