Friday, 11 February 2011

Defending against mistakes

I saw a story on some current affairs show about someone who had mistyped a number on an electronic bank transfer and sent money to the wrong account. It was a significant amount of money, and the question was immediately raised: why don't the banks defend against this kind of mistake? The reason is that it's impossible to tell intent from that action.

If I meant to send money to my Uncle Bob for the first time, but I hit the wrong number and get AAA Pottery Supplies instead, how can that look accidental to the bank? I might have bought something from them and need to make a transfer, besides which they don't know Uncle Bob is my uncle or that I meant the transfer to go to him. Furthermore, I don't think the banks can even get names to associate with accounts from other institutions, and if they were able, they shouldn't, because that makes confirming (or brute-force guessing) account details much simpler.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The only thing you could do is extra chances for manual checking.
PPS - But those quickly become automatically skipped.

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