Some confusion in the Finextra editorial office this past few days after we received conflicting press releases from Nationwide and the Royal Bank of Scotland both claiming to have launched the UK's first Internet bank ten years ago.
So it was gratifying to get an unsolicited update on the issue from the Nationwide press office this afternoon, pointing out that it was the "first UK provider" to launch an Internet banking service on 27 May 1997. Royal Bank of Scotland launched its online
banking service in June 1997.
Note the subtle change in emphasis from the Nationwide camp. When Nationwide first ventured into the online space it was in fact a building society, meaning that Royal Bank of Scotland can legitimately claim bragging rights as the first UK bank on the Web.
Out of curiosity - and without wishing to spark any further conflict - does anybody know which of the world's traditional bricks'n'mortar banks was the first to establish a sizeable commercial presence on the Internet?
It all depends on how you define a 'sizeable commercial presence' of course, but my money's on First Union Corp (since merged with Wachovia), which in January 1995 stunned the industry with the launch of First Access Network, a 150-page customer service
branch, offering information on products and services, job ads, budgeting tips and the company's involvement with the community - although crucially no transactional capability. Just to rub it in, First Union defined the business as 'cyberbanking' and registered
the term as its own trademark.
Any other takers?