There has been an evolution of ways in doing business. From early ages when barter system used to be applied by man to this age when business operations are done on a single mouse click, it is a long journey. This journey started from barter trading when man started exchanging things for meeting his basic necessities such as food, cloth, shelter, etc. By the time medium of exchange kept on altering from stone coins, leather coins, metal coins, and then paper currency which evolved from currency to card having credit, which further advanced to plastic cards which has advanced even more today. This is a money-less exchange or virtual money. Payments are not made through currency but it is more or less made through cards now. Now business is also carried out on internet right away and there are websites that are specific for online business. (Guru, 2007). The era where all the transactions are shifting to the virtual world of internet, how can the banking sector left behind in the race of advancement? Although the innovation in this field can be an arduous job to do but once it’s done it can be way too profitable and convenient for a firm itself and the client too. Therefore the task of transforming the manually operational firms to digital firms got started and finally got achieved. In this paper we will examine and evaluate the online banking services of Bank of America and assess the features such as user friendliness, compatibility, security and others and present our findings about the bank’s website.
Emergence of e-commerce in Banking
Basically when customers can access their bank accounts and carry out their banking transaction without going to bank just through any intelligent device like their personal computer or mobile phone, this trend is referred as banking online (Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks, 1999). Bank of America also facilitates its customers with online banking options where they can do a number of operations and real time transactions on a single mouse click.
But along with the merits there are always demerits too. With the practice of doing business online, a great many thefts have been observed which resulted in loss of money and precious information. These thefts were due to hacking of information in the middle of transactions. In banking due to this treat, there were so many risks credit risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk, price risk, transaction risk, foreign exchange risk, compliance risk, strategic risk and above all of them the reputation and credibility risks (Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks, 1999). Bank of America not only introduced many internet banking features but additionally this corporation helped the humanity in bringing out ways to transfer data in a very safe n secure manner. The employment of new technologies is discussed below in the paper which includes Site Key feature along with Safe Pass and Check scanning. Briefly these were the features which added an extra layer over the other frequently used protocols.
Bank of America: Website’s features Overview
These online banking options includes products and services that the firm offers e.g. Checking, Savings, Credit Cards, Mortgage, Refinance, Auto loans, investing services, Individual Retirement Account, Insurance, and other specialized features as well. Bank of America provides its customers with the management of their accounts too, this includes fees and processes such as student banking overdraft fee, monthly service fee, management of balances etc., upgrading or reordering of check cards, online investments, Online Banking options such as viewing accounts, accessing credit cards, Bill Pay, Tracking expenses and also the Mobile Banking features (Bank of America, 2008). One of the most intuitive options for people is also provided in this website which is a helpdesk in which they help and guide people in achieving their goals like buying a home, searching for a home, retirement centre, planning for a college, student loan, purchasing a car, strengthening debts, small business online community and many other financial goals achievement help. One can also open an account online. This website also offers security and privacy validation checks. Searching locations of branches is made easy for the customers by providing numerous options in the website. Besides that the website contains signing in to other services too. The website is also providing its achievements list in different banking transactions and asking for guidance on many places (Bank of America, 2008).
Types of advertisement
The site map is not available unless we sign up. Most of the options are for members; where as many promotional offers and help desk features are publically available. There are no banner ads on the website of any other company. The site do has some banner ads but only for their promotional offers. As far as my observation is concerned I have hardly seen any of their promotion on any other website or advertisement on television or radio. They host their website internally, not by any external host who can manage websites.
The technologies employed by the company are numerous. On their website they have put a video promotion for their visa card offer which seems very interactive that attracts the customer a lot and persuades him to have an account in the Bank of America. They have also employed some new technologies such as ‘Safe Pass and Site Key’ (Boston College, 2008) and ‘Check Scanning’ (Boston College, 2008).
Safe Pass is a very ground-breaking technology introduced by the Bank of America where it proof reads the process of securing member’s information in order to keep from threatening activities of hacker. A member is given a 6-digit code on his smart device which a member must enter before carrying out transactions online. This code is changed once it is used and another random pass-code is generated for the transactions to be carried out next. As this information is only sent to you on your personal device and your card therefore there is no chance of its exposure. If card is stolen, even then there is no other personal information so it is of no use for the thief (Boston College, 2008).
Site Key is a series of steps required before a transaction is made, its specialty is a secret image that is selected by a member and its name is kept by the member himself therefore if a password or pass-code gets hacked, this image would leave the hacker with nothing on his hands. Although there are numerous security protocols applied on internet transactions that prevents the user from the exposure of his personal information but these added features satisfies the bank’s customers that their information is safe while doing online transactions (Boston College, 2008).
Check Scanning is yet another feature from the Bank of America which prevents the user to go to any of the branches and get a check cashed into currency; instead a user scans that check into ATM and the screen displays the check with the required amount. This makes customers capable of cashing their checks anywhere and anytime they want in a very secure way (Boston College, 2008).
Although an OSI Model Architecture provides with a safe traversal of information and when it comes to secret information there are added layers of protocols to safely transmit and receive the data like Secure Sockets Layer known as SSL which is kept on presentation layer of an OSI model. We often watch an eye icon on the screen of internet explorer; this icon shows the presence of SSL protocol which ensures safe data transmission. These added layers applied by the Bank of America are like confirming the strict security of user’s precious information.
Policies, Annual Reports, Forms and Acknowledgement
The website of The Bank of America has published their annual reports, quarterly reports, and current reports known as 10-K, 10-Q, and 8-K respectively on their websites for public. They have also kept the amendments of those reports as filings for public viewing. All these reports are in accordance with Security Exchange Act 1934. Filings are filed by Security Exchange Commission know as SEC. The website also provides with the policies and rules such as Code of Ethics and Insider Training Policy, Corporate Governance, and the charter of its Board Committees. The amendments to all these guidelines are also available from Chief Accounting Officer, Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Financial Officer (Bank of America, 2006). Their strategies for growth include Global Consumer and Small Business Banking which focuses on retail financial services (Bank of America, 2008). Another strategy is Global Wealth and Investment Management which focuses on Premier Banking that brings overseas customers to the Bank. Also there is Global Corporate and Investment Banking which is for the betterment of many e.g. shareholders, corporate and commercial clients, and financial-sponsor clients. The other paths for growth of the company may be acquisition of capital, financing the economy which can compel the future growth of company. Keeping good relationship with neighbors would make strong market. These strategies can make them grow as said by the chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Bank of America Kenneth D. Lewis. The Bank of America is in competition with other corporations through its website, this competition holds in terms of customer relationship management, customer services, interest rates, lending boundaries, etc. as the corporation is providing internet-based features of finance which other competitors are also doing but either they have a low-cost structure or possession of regulatory constraints. Besides internet-based financing activities they are also providing products and offering services on internet, which is grand in itself but obviously applying technology can be expensive too therefore the services should be offered in such a way that it is immediately adopted by the users so that the burden of cost reduces to its maximum. While doing Small business Banking and grabbing customers from abroad, it is the use of internet that can bring capital of a person living far away to the bank. This is the reason Bank of America is serving up to 29 states, 27 countries which are segregated into some geographic sections United States of America and Canada; Asia; Europe, Middle East, Africa, and has 5873 banking centers and 16,785 domestic branded ATMs, and telephone and internet channels which are mainly providing Real Estate guidance, Admission Assistance, Debit products and consumer deposits (Bank of America, 2006).
The Annual Report also states about the Global Business and Financial Services that they finance small businesses. There is a global treasury services provision as well which provides treasury solutions, management of capital, foreign exchange etc. Middle Market Banking provides lending and investment services. Business banking offers client managed small business members some value added services like wide range credit, treasury management, and other advisory services. Leasing services are especially for middle market, small business, and corporate firms in America. Business capital also provides lending services but asset-based. Dealer financial services provides many direct or indirect investing and lending activities that helps in financing for floor, vehicle, marine and auto-dealerships (Bank of America, 2006). Precisely these global activities are bringing great business to the firm, which is made possible only through internet. Otherwise these interactive and innovative services would not have been in common practice. E-commerce has proven to be highly profitable to businesses because it needs less man force and bigger operation get done on a small screen.
The Bank of America applies new technologies in doing business. Senior Vice President Kirk Lindsey says “Customers will get better validation of their deposits and a copy of their check printed on their receipts. It will also give us the ability to have later hours to make deposits without having to pick up the items every day” (Boston College, 2008). By applying new things it is over shadowing the others in competition. All this is due to the emergence of e-commerce. Above everything else they have been working hard to enhance security features. The firms in competition imitate what they do but in the bigger picture, it is for the good of mankind today that all their transactions go safe and sound.
World Wide Web brought out major changes to the way of doing almost everything. Therefore banking sector too cannot be left behind in the race. Bank of America has introduced many technologies in secure online banking. The website of Bank of America gives a number of options that a man can perform anywhere and anytime on a single mouse click and very safely. The journey of trade and commerce has been very strenuous and has advanced to e-commerce now. Each and every transaction that needed to be done by putting in manual and physical effort now can be done virtually in a very secure manner. In this paper, journey of money transactions have been overviewed. How Bank of America facilitates its customers in their website. Features they offer and how and finally their policies have also been discussed in the paper.
Bank of America. (2008). Chairman’s Letter. Retrieved February 17, 2009, from Bank of America: http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/irol/71/71595/reports/2007_AR/chairman_3.html
Bank of America. (2008). Home Page. Retrieved February 17, 2009, from Bank of America: https://www.bankofamerica.com/
Bank of America. (2006, March 16). US SEC Form 10-K Annual Report. Washington D.C., United States of America.
Boston College. (2008). Computers in Management. Retrieved February 17, 2009, from Group Project:Bank of America: http://www.socialtext.net/lite/page/cim/group_project_bank_of_america
Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks. (1999). Internet Banking ‘Comptroller’s Handbook’.
Guru, P. (2007, March 11). Emergence of eCommerce – eBusiness-Internet Business! Retrieved February 16, 2009, from Ezine Articles: http://ezinearticles.com/?Emergence-of-eCommerce—eBusiness-Internet-Business!&id=484425