SpareBank internet banking – a critique

I became a client of SpareBank in October. I am working with internet banking since 1998 with banks accross the world. I am so disappointed and here is why:


First problem that I’ve came in contact with is the lack of internationalization support. This goes for web, customer relation, email communications and personal in the bank. While most Norwegians speak English, the opposite is not true. Most of SpareBank international clients are not speaking Norwegian. A lot of people come to Norway to work, and learning Norwegian should not be a requisite for opening an account. All the website is in norwegian, all the forms and manuals are the same. Since September some parts of the website are in English, but very little and very bad. Is quite strange and I could say grossly impolite to respond in Norwegian if I am writing emails to you in English.  But it happens a lot. And the response I get:

If you use Google translater you can copy paste the solution
ant tanslate from norwegian to english.

Per Kr. Eilertsen


No edits were made. Are you serious? This is your corporate answer? Millions of NOK go into PR campaigns for this?

There is a list of item that I bought in my internet banking. 80% of them are named, and I have English as the selected option:


All other items that I paid using my card all the things are in Norwegian.


ACCESSIBILITY (or the lack of)
There are people of all types that are using your services and the internet. Myself I am using Linux as my operating system. Linux is free and it has growing number of users. Linux/Mozilla is flawless compared with Windows in terms of security and in terms of displaying webpages.

When you are looking in your google Analytics you will tell me that not a lot of people is using it. Of course not if you are not offering a valid web application.

I have no problem accessing any other internet banking account from my linux machine. On SNN  though this is almost impossible. The messages are cryptic. The Java plugin that you are using is behaving each time different in terms of responses, or errors. Sometimes it hangs indefinately, sometimes it works once and never again.

And is your applet and not the plugin which works in other configurations.

JAVA was a choice for your plugin beacause its CROSS-platform capabilities. But I am sure you already knew that.

After a lot of mailing back (in Norwegian) and forth I get recommended to change the JAVA plugin with one which in your support is the “correct version”. I just want to say that the “correct version” is not the correct version. The procedure to install it is not either straightforward, either explained anyware. This is the link that your customer support is sending me to:

It does not work for me. Maybe is a link on your intranet. But I am sure you already knew that.


When working with internet banking you want to know stuff live. This is the advantage of internet in the first place.
I made a few international transfers. After a dificult procedure, which asks me to safe a sender (why?) I make the payment and everything dissapears. I dont get a confirmation that something happen, I dont see money reserver in my account, I dont have a page showing me the latest transactions… NOTHING. I have to wait for a day or two until the transaction will enter the main history line to realize what really happen. Or I can try again thus duplicating the transaction.

The transaction signing. I understand that is a good security procedure to sign transactions, but you are abusing it, in terms of screens. Put all the codes in one screen. What is the point on having the national number first and the rest in a second step procedure?

The messages are short and unclear.

Contrary to the public opinion by using a JAVA applet you are not making the application more secure. You probably knew this as well.


And all this is handled by a customer service who:

  • writes bank in Norwegian when you are addressing in English
  • sends links that don’t work
  • responds from emails that are bounce (
  • that are so polite that send you use google translate as a service
  • that answer with 24 hours+ delay for each email
  • that ask you for your date of birth instead of lsb_release() – it happend on the SNN twitter.
  • that don’t respond anymore if they don’t like the problem
  • that don’t call you back (Espen Kjølberg) even if the general manager (Olav Eriksen) tells you he will call back (I got a call after publishing this post, more than 2 weeks later)
  • that tell you in the bank that you have to wait because everybody is at lunch ( at in my lunch time)
  • that have different approaches depending on the person (procedures are flexible and adaptable)


The best feature of your internet banking for is the fact that on the login page your people have put a list of errors that are most common. This means that is mostly expected that this errors will happen. Look at BOFA or Santander  or any other big banks and tell me how many errors do they list on the login page?

And above all I get emails from you inviting me to seminars where you will teach me the benefits of internet banking? and how well you do it? This becomes paradoxical…

All this small things cost money in the end, and affect the quality and the price of your services.

Just cut the crap and assume responsibility!

Update from the dialogs (monologs – me talking about how nice is the internet, and the big corporation mimicking a face saving) that followed. Everything from this post was resumed to the Linux issue and solved like this :

The BankID and Linux issues that you are experiencing are most likely due to the fact that you are using openjdk. BankID and the BankID applets which are used by all Norwegian banks require SUNs JRE.

My last email to Mona Strøm Arnøy. and Espen Kjolberg is still without a reply:

I still have a couple of questions for your leaders:

  • what are other banks in the world are doing? I mean the banks who are not implementing BankId and still have strong authentication. As I was saying java != strong_auth. Just strong problems.
  • so 2.5 million users (forcibly) have enrolled to BankID. What other options your bank provides me as a customer?

10% of the readers of this blog don’t have a Java solution (google analytics). Those users are not able to use internet banking solutions in Norway?

Stupid systems and people without vertebrae everywhere… what can you expect?



Here is the proof that I am not crazy, but just an informed customer, and all Spare Bank users are indeed in danger (written by  Kristian Gjøstee in 2008!!!) . And another interesting paper from 2008! And another one from 2009!

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