Popular chart-topping savings provider Al Rayan will shut down online banking permanently on Wednesday 26 February and is telling customers to use its mobile app instead.
In what came as a surprise announcement to some customers this morning, emails were received giving them less than a week to change over to mobile banking if they wanted to continue to use digital banking uninterrupted.
Being told to download and register for a mobile app with only six days’ notice, some feared they were being rushed into a scam to seize personal banking details. However, Al Rayan confirmed to Which? that the messages were genuine.
This move will come as a big blow to customers who, for whatever reason, don’t want to bank via a mobile app on their smartphone and prefer using desktops or laptops.
Here, we look at why Al Rayan has made this move, how customers are affected and what they should do to ensure they can still manage their money.
Update on 26 February: Following customer protest, Al Rayan has extended the deadline a second time to Wednesday 13th March for customers to download the new app.
The bank has also brought in extra contact centre staff, a call back service and is now telling customers to contact the bank for a free hand token device if they prefer to bank online.
Why is Al Rayan making this change?
Al Rayan told Which? that it’s scrapping its online banking website in response to customer demand for more convenient and mobile-led banking.
The bank says that using its app is a more secure way of banking with it, citing two-factor authentication where a customer has to enter a second set of details to give approval for their account to be accessed.
In preparation for the Wednesday’s change, customers may not be able to access any of their accounts via mobiles, desktops or laptops, or the phone for nine hours this weekend. Services will be down on Saturday between 3pm and midnight for the maintenance.
Al Rayan confirmed that there are no changes to its telephone banking and in-branch services.
- Find out more: how safe is online banking?
What you should do if you’re a customer
As this is a new mobile banking app, you’ll have to create a new username, password and Pin before your banking is moved over and you can start to use it.
To register, you’ll need your account details or use facial identification.
Customers who can’t get the new app up and running by Wednesday will still be able to download it after that, but they lose access to their accounts online via the website.
Is the Al Rayan banking app any good?
The Al Rayan banking app has a 1.5-star rating on Google Play and a three-star rating out of five on the Apple App Store.
Customers have told us that they have been struggling to get it working.
Hamse Yusuf, an Al Rayan customer, told us: ‘The new app is terrible and I can’t get my ID and face authorised so I’m unable to check that.
‘I have been trying to sign up to the mobile app for months and it just won’t work.’
Another customer said: ‘I can’t get it to work – seems to be a common problem according to comments on Al Rayan’s Facebook page.’
What happens if you don’t have a smartphone?
The bank says ‘thousands’ of customers are already using the app.
Those who don’t will need to download it, although if you have an older phone you may run into trouble.
You will need a compatible smartphone or device and it must run at least version 12 (iOS) or version 8 (Android).
Al Rayan says customers who don’t have the right smartphone will be issued with ‘a hard-token’ device so they can carry on accessing their accounts on a desktop computer.
Customers left in the dark
Al Rayan frequently tops the tables with its range of savings accounts, but customers have hit out over the communication of the change.
The emails caused some customers concern, and when they checked to see what was happening on the bank’s website, there was no mention of it.
Unsurprisingly, the bank’s helpline was busy this morning, as people turned to it seeking confirmation. It was reporting higher-than-usual call volumes, but a recorded message was telling people to download the new app if they were phoning in response to the email.
The bank contacted all its online savings and current account holders last July and August to advise them that it would be switching away from desktops, but some customers were only notified of the date this week with just days to go.
Al Rayan says it had already notified what it called ‘active users’ of online banking prior to today, pointing out that they would need to download the new mobile app.
Hamse Yusuf told Which?: ‘I’m a customer and have not received any such communications, to my knowledge.’
- Find out more: Islamic finance and Sharia-compliant savings explained