Six years after the launch of its telebanking service, National Irish Bank (NIB) has finally launched an internet banking facility, being the last major Irish bank to do so.
NIB customers can access the new online banking service at www.nib.ie, which launched last Friday.
Other banks already offering web banking include Bank of Ireland (www.365online.com), Allied Irish bank (www.24hour-online.ie) and Ulster Bank (www.ulsterbank.com). Building societies have also been in on the act, with PermanentTSB (www.open24.ie) and, to a limited extent, EBS (ww2.ebs.ie) both offering internet banking facilities.
As a preamble to offering an e-banking service, NIB first launched a 24-hour telephone banking product, accessed at 1850 200 400, in 1997. NIB customers looking to bank online first have to register with the telebanking service where they will be given a unique customer number and access code.
NIB’s lateness to the internet market is explained by Raymond Holmes, project manager, business development Ireland at NIB, who has been working on the internet banking project for the past six months: “It took a while to get the investment together first, for a start. As we are part of the National Australia Bank, our peer banks across the water, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, were lined up to get online services first.”
It was not a case that the bank was adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude, according to Holmes. “Our website traffic seemed to indicate heavy interest from our customers enquiring as to when we were going to set up internet banking,” he added. “The site provides for customer feedback and we have a site review planned for the next six months. But our main objective, according to our timescale, was to just get the internet side of things up and running and to look at additional services as we move forward.”
Since its launch last weekend, over 1,000 NIB customers have already registered their details with the online banking service. “We sent around 2,000 email alerts of the launch to customers who had pre-registered their interest on our website. Take-up has been staggering so far. We have exceeded our first week target. Our end-of-year target, including figures for both NIB and Northern Bank, is to have 26,000 internet banking customers, which you can break down to 50/50,” Holmes added.
Security on the NIB site is provided by 128-bit encryption as well as the private customer numbers issued by the bank as part of its telebanking service.
While each Irish bank and building society’s internet banking product differs slightly, general features include the viewing of account statements, checking bank balances and transfering funds. Some financial institutions offer the added facility of ordering chequebooks and letting customers pay credit card and household bills online.
Customers are flocking online to avail of internet banking facilities. According to AIB, its internet banking service hosted over 1.1 million personal banking visits – 48pc higher than the same time last year. It also reported that during February some 155,000 customers used the AIB online personal banking service seven times on average, generating more than 300,000 payments and 1.3 million online statements of bank and credit card accounts. This is the equivalent of up to 13 million visits to the bank in a year.
One of the greatest benefits of using the internet to bank is that the services come free of charge to customers and it eliminates time-consuming trips to bank branches to fulfil mundane tasks such as bill-paying or transferring funds. In turn, internet banking frees up the bank personnel’s time, allowing them to concentrate on other money-making business such as mortgage arrangement and investment projects.
By Linda Gillett