Nationwide is to shut down its branded Internet Service Provider offering by the end of March. The UK building society is advising customers to sign up with BTinternet, which has run the Nationwide service since its launch in August 1998.
Nationwide currently claims about half a million online banking customers. It has not revealed details of the numbers of users affected by the ISP closure.
Ironically, news of the building society's retreat from the market for ISP provision predates the release of a Nationwide-sponsored survey conducted by Mori which shows growing numbers of people logging on to the Net for the first time, particularly in the prosperous South East.
According to Mori's figures, the number of people with Internet access rose from 34% to 45% between February and December last year in the South East. A further 7% of the Mori regional sample are planning to buy a home computer and 5% get connected to the Internet in the next six months. Mori estimates that just over one in ten of the region's 10.6 million current account holders do at least some of their banking online, up from seven per cent in February.