New fees levied by financial institutions are likely to push many small businesses into banking online, whether or not they are aware of and prepared for the types of sophisticated cyber attacks that have cost organizations tens of millions of dollars in recent months.
On the way home from the store last week I caught a Public Radio/Marketplace story in which the radio show interviewed a small business owner who was nudged into banking online after discovering a $9.99 fee had been added to her business banking account for the privilege of continuing to receive paper statements each month.
The angle of the story was the unfairness of the new fees, considering the estimated 12 million people in the United States who have no or only slow access to the Internet. In the following snippet from that program, Marketplace’s David Brancaccio interviewed a woman from Northern New Hampshire:
“The bank with her personal account still sends monthly statements printed on paper, through the mail, for free. Old school. But this year, one of her business accounts started charging money for paper statements.
Johnson: That’s right.
Brancaccio: How much?
Johnson: $9.99 a month.
Brancaccio: When did you actually notice?
Johnson: My bank statement, my paper bank statement! is how I found it!
“It’s a growing trend in banking. For instance, Bank of America has something called the E-banking account where paper statements and routine visits to a human teller cost money. It’s now in more than three dozen states. B of A says techno-savvy customers seem fine with online-only in exchange for no minimum cash balances in the account.”
Johnson didn’t say which bank her commercial account was at. And for its part, BofA’s eBanking plan only applies to consumer accounts, not businesses. But if this type of trend becomes more mainstream among commercial banking customers, more and more small businesses will be pushed into banking online without knowing how to protect themselves from organized cyber thieves that have stolen at least $70 million from small to mid-sized organizations over the last few years.