Banks wriggle out
was issued in June, and an apparently final code is to be released some time soon.
This looks as though the banks want to keep people in the dark till they can present the world with a done deal.
This is no way to take such a controversial move, which could affect the rights of many thousands of customers for whom internet banking is a routine part of their day.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the banks have tried to weaken their commitments to their internet banking customers. They did the same thing in 2007, when they were revising an earlier code.
That revision included a clause that made customers liable for fraud losses if they opened attachments or ran software from untrusted or unknown sources.
Another clause penalised the customers in the same way if they failed to keep ‘‘protective software’’ of their operating system up to date.
This led, quite rightly, to a public backlash.
And now the banks seem to be doing it all again.
This is curious if only because the banks spend enormous sums trying to convince their customers that the banks are on their side, that they are human, wellmeaning institutions and ‘‘people like us.’’
You would think that these organisations, which make enormous profits and spend enormous sums on advertising and PR, would understand the PR risks they were undertaking. But apparently not. Consumer NZ, which led the charge in 2007 against the banks, is criticising them this time as well. Its CEO, Sue Chetwin, is concerned by the proposal to remove the guiding principle over fraud liability.
And she rightly says the decision to keep submissions secret is not ‘‘a very wise idea’’.
Chetwin has made public her organisation’s submission and suggests that other submitters would be happy to do likewise.
The banks are now faced with the problem of digging themselves out of a hole.
They enjoy a large measure of freedom and self-regulation under the law. If they want the public to accept this, they must show that they will not use it to protect their own interests at the expense of their customers.
But that is what it looks as though they’re doing with their code of practice.