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5 years ago...First Direct takes cautious steps towards net banking

Now everyone's doing it
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

Now everyone's doing it

24.09.98: UK-based First Direct bank has confirmed plans to move into internet banking following the success of its dial-up PC banking project. Tim Bashford, customer service manager, said PC banking has attracted more than 47,000 users. According to Bashford, First Direct has some reservations about the internet as a platform for its banking services: "You just can't guarantee the routing on the internet and if it goes down, First Direct is the first to get the blame." However, it will still go ahead with a Net service next year. The bank confirmed that ICL - the company that set up its PC banking - is in the running to supply equipment for the service. "There may well be more work for ICL when we branch onto the internet," Bashford said. 24.09.03: Five years later and First Direct, which was one of the first banks to pioneer phone banking, has one million customers with 420,000 using the internet, 180,000 using mobile phone text message services and 4,300 poor souls still sticking with WAP. And what was once seen as a risky venture in putting banking services online is now an essential channel for banks to offer their customers, seen in not only the major high street outfits but start-ups such as Egg. There were the invevitable security cock-ups as banks grappled with the new medium but that has not stopped it becoming a part of everyday life for most people with a bank account. What is clear, however, is that wild predictions of online banking making branches obsolete were somewhat wide of the mark. A recent report by analyst Datamonitor claimed channel integration and branch renewal will dominate European banking IT spend through to 2005.
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