Donald MacInnes: Online banking? It presses all the wrong buttons

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The Independent Online

Ah, January. A month among months. Named, obviously, after the Viking god Janus, who brought stability to the 12 warring kingdoms by inventing the world's first self-service checkout.

If, as literature would have us believe, autumn is the season of jelly fruitiness, January personifies drizzle, leaden nothingness and intimidating fitness DVDs fronted by shiny gentlemen with stomachs like those cartons that eggs come in.

To make matters worse, while I may not be completely out of cash, I am close enough to pay day to be more than a little nervy about going through the rigmarole of checking my bank account online. That's not to say that my bank is any more annoying than any other when it comes to security questions and passcodes, but in the depths of winter, any financial-based annoyance is going to be made worse. Thus fiscal bugbears irritate us just a tad more at this time of year; well, more than they would if they had happened when you were reclining on an inflatable crocodile in a Cancun hotel pool with a Dos Equis creeping coldly past your gullet.

Actually, I'm beginning to get a little cross, just thinking about my current account, so I should probably try to picture Jessica Ennis-Hill, who fronts adverts for my bank. Although she was chosen as a spokesperson due to her enormous success at the London 2012 Olympics, I suggest another reason for her figurehead status is her somewhat soporific presentation. I would suggest she is there to make us financially sleepy! Of course, it could also be down to the fact that they only ever seem to ask her about her banking choices when she has run up some bleak Yorkshire hillside and her speech has got a bit slurry due to the frigid sleet battering her pretty face.

Aside from that, she is clearly a healthy and financially astute woman with a golden smile and the aforementioned egg-box abs. She also invited praise for the way she handled getting married. Adding the name of her new husband to her own surname was a nice, modern way of going about the process. Mind you, her first idea was to change her name to Jessica Ennis-Santander, but the bank's Spanish übersuits felt this just a touch too needy.

Now, you are possibly wondering why I mention Santander. Well, I really just want to make a plea to them. I beg you: please don't introduce one of those little calculator things that generate unique passcodes for online banking. I have one for my First Direct account and my wife has one for the Nationwide. But nothing, and I mean nothing, gets lost more frequently than these little rectangles of plastic misery. So Señor and Señora Santander, por favor. Keep things simple. What's wrong with just asking us our mother's maiden name or first school? We don't need any more sodding buttons to press.

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