Paper statements

I recently had to go back to the UK and found I had a pile of paper correspondence.

Among them were various statements from one of my investment accounts.

I converted my accounts with the same bank (via a deliver-all online toggle switch) to online-only so I was surprised to still be receiving them.

I called and was told that due to legislation/regulations they have to deliver paper versions. I was shocked. Email has existed since 1971 although it would be fairer to say that it has existed as a mass medium since the mid nineties. To not be able to offer an online-only version means the legislation is around 20 years out of date. I asked them if they could change the address to an HSBC branch (e.g. 1, The Bin, HSBC, Tottenham Court Road) however they said it has to go to a personal residential address.

I was curious whether there were older forms of communication and it is certainly not the oldest – the papal message is delivered via coloured smoke up a chimney – however that’s due to tradition. Legislation that’s out of date is not down to tradition. I refuse to believe that the law-makers won’t change the law because they believe sending out the statements on paper is more “traditional”. The more plausible  answer is security. Either the law-makers believe that paper is more secure (it isn’t as various humans handle the paper envelopes on their physical route whereas email/web can be encrypted) or a critical part in the the bank delivery chain hasn’t been updated due to fear of a lack of security.

The more feasible is the latter. However the person on the call was adamant – paper delivery was because  legislation demanded it. I’d be interested to know of similarly ridiculous cases – where, due to archaic legislation, there is similar waste and expense.