Internet banking emerged during the 1990s as an exciting new way for individuals and companies to co-ordinate their finances. Since then it has slowly matured as a channel to the extent that it is now routinely used by people of all ages and education levels rather than just being the preserve of geeky male graduates. Ultimately it has been the many benefits that Internet banking provides that has driven the growth in its usage and overcome initial scepticism and/or apathy.
The convenience of anywhere, any time banking:
Early banking TV promotions were at pains to show happy people doing their banking on a laptop on a beach, or in their dressing gown in the middle of the night. The reality is that most of us probably won’t be bothered with undertaking banking transactions whilst on the beach or at 3am but the convenience to choose when and where we do our banking has been a huge selling point.
It’s certainly been a big step forward from branch banking opening hours. By using Internet banking, the door to your bank and your money doesn’t close at 5pm and doesn’t close for weekends or bank holidays!
Greater visibility of your money and control over your finances:
Particularly in this recession-hit era, people are increasingly aware of the importance of actively managing their finances to minimize debt and maximise the amount of money that they can save or invest for a better future. The fact that Internet banking provides instant access to your statement history, and the ability to transfer funds between accounts, means that individuals are more easily able to budget and take control of their finances. Some Internet banking services also offer a range of money management tools, such as savings calculators and budgetary packages, which further help people to become better at managing their money.
Easier ability to make payments:
Having access to Internet banking means you can schedule electronic payments to other people or companies and, in many cases, such payments now go through in real-time. This can be a lot more convenient and less time-consuming than having to write a cheque/check or traipse down to your local branch to arrange for a payment to be set up.
Providing access to Internet-only deals:
Some banks reserve their best rates for accounts that are managed entirely via the Internet. This is especially the case with regards to savings accounts. Therefore, those who are comfortable to manage such accounts via the Internet can benefit from superior returns on their bank accounts.
Reducing paper clutter and saving the environment:
People have been switching off paper bank statements in their thousands as the world moves towards electronic statements. This removes the need to store paper statements in filing cabinets and reduces the risk of sensitive documents being chucked out with the rubbish and falling into the hands of fraudsters. It also helps us all to create a more environmentally aware society.
Receiving electronic alerts on your accounts:
Increasingly banks are enabling Internet banking customers to receive e-mail or text alerts telling them when they’re about to go overdrawn or when their fixed rate savings bond is due to expire. Such online banking initiatives further add to the convenience and control benefits of being an Internet Banking customer.
Internet Banking has proven itself to be more than a fad. It is now deeply ingrained in the fabric of modern banking and we can expect that it will continue to flourish as one of the main ways that individuals and businesses will choose to conduct their finances. At its core, the principles of convenience and control underpin its popularity and make it one of the most important online services that we utilize.