Online banking in the UK is now ten years old – and more than a third of us regularly log on to handle our finances.
Nationwide Building Society beat the banks and launched the country’s first online banking service on 27 May, 1997.
A decade on more than 18 million people in the UK now get balance updates or make payments over the internet.
The advent of broadband and the relative ease of banking online compared to having to queue in a High Street branch has seen rapid growth in the sector.
Five fold increase
Since the turn of the century, online banking numbers have increase five fold.
Today, half of all internet users in the UK manage their finances online, according to statistics from the UK payments association APACS.
By 2016 it is expected that more than two-third of adults will be using telephone and internet banking.
Figures from Nationwide show that 66 per cent of online bankers log on at least once a week, with 9 per cent of men and 6 per cent of women stating that they check their internet account every day.
Sandra Quinn, director of communications at APACS, said: ‘Online banking has totally changed the way we manage our accounts, enabling us to keep a much closer eye on our finances outside of traditional banking hours.
‘The ease and convenience of online banking has meant it has become second nature to many of us.’
Of those who have signed up to the new way of sorting out their finances, 53 per cent said they bank online because they believe it to be convenient.
Half said internet banking is easy to use, with a quarter citing speed as the main reason they have switched from branch to internet.
But with the rise in numbers going online to manage their finances, there has inevitably been an increase in the number of fraudsters targeting internet bankers.
In 2006, online banking fraud cost the industry £33.5 million in losses, compared with £23.2 million in the year before.
Which? researcher Ian Robinson said: ‘Online banking offers consumers many advantages in terms of convenience and control. It’s notable too how internet accounts dominate our banking ‘Best Buys’, offering top rates of interest and high levels of customer satisfaction.
‘Security is a worry, but it’s worth remembering that if you suffer online fraud (through phishing or spyware, for example) you can normally claim your losses back from the bank. Which? is calling for revisions in the Banking Code to make this clearer. If you suspect you have been a victim you should contact your bank immediately.
‘By making sure you have an up-to-date firewall and installing anti-virus software and antispyware on your computer you can greatly reduce the risk such attacks.’
* The July edition of Which? magazine contains a full report on internet banking.