How can banks insist that I have a mobile?

Anna Tims
Photograph: Prostock-studio/Alamy

It is getting very difficult to carry out financial transactions online because I do not carry a mobile phone. In response to the new regulation, Strong Customer Authorisation (SCA), banks insist on texting an authentication code and offering no alternative, other than going into the nearest branch. This presents another difficulty because where I live there are no branches left. I’ve been forced to close an online-only Santander savings account ... because I was unable to access it. Banks are effectively forcing customers to carry a mobile.

RE, Littleover, Derby

SCA is the result of a European Union directive to help prevent card-not-present fraud, which cost the UK £506m last year. It requires verification of customers’ identities, one of which is sending a one-time passcode texted to a phone. It was supposed to become mandatory in the UK last September, but the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, agreed to allow 18 months for the roll-out for everyone to adapt.

A survey by the campaign group Which? found that 13% of respondents had a poor mobile signal at home and 4% did not own a phone, leading to fears that older or poorer customers may be shut out of the online marketplace.

Several banks do send the code via a landline, but Santander isn’t one of them. It told the Observer it’s looking into an “alternative solution” to ensure it meets the needs of all its customers, and pointed out its app works with wifi if a signal is poor.

The banking trade body UK Finance says: “The industry is working hard to implement these changes in a way that balances both convenience and security, for example offering alternatives to text-based passcodes for those who don’t have access to a mobile. We would encourage anyone concerned to speak with their bank or provider.”

I’d consider getting a cheap pay-as-you-go handset for little as £10.

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