Barclays and NatWest have put their on-line banking services on hold because they are not happy about the level of security they can offer over the Internet.
Both banks are looking at ways to ensure transactions over the Internet are secure, but neither are satisfied that dial-in services are hacker-proof. Charlie Herbert, on-line services manager at NatWest, said: "There is a worry about a direct-dial service and that's why we're on hold. We absolutely have to overcome the problems before we can launch."
NatWest's decision to tread carefully in the on-line banking arena, which is estimated to be worth #16 billion a year, comes amid fears of new hacking techniques using intelligent viruses. Instead of attacking a bank directly these viruses seize control of connected PCs and can move money, steal personal records and alter account details.
Herbert would not say whether these types of attacks were the reason NatWest was delaying the launch of its Internet banking service, but he acknowledged that customers' perceptions of what hackers can do were still very exaggerated.
Daryll Booth, Barclays' on-line services manager, admitted the bank was still not ready to offer an Internet banking system due to the "dangers", but both banks are about to start testing smart card technology. NatWest is expected to make an announcement about its on-line service by July.
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