The Royal Bank of Scotland has defended its decision to use ActiveX in its Internet banking project, despite revelations that most banks are now basing similar schemes on Java.
"If we had the choice again, we would go for ActiveX again," insisted the bank's business project manager, Andrew Pollard. He dismissed the notion that ActiveX is less secure than Java as a "perception".
However, at a meeting in London last week to reveal the first details of how the Internet banking operation was set up, the consultant advising the bank on the project confided that most development at other sites is now happening in Java.
"At the time when we started developing, 18 months ago, using ActiveX was the right decision," argued Ken Gorman, managing director of FICS, the company chosen by the bank to implement the system. He added that, with the explosion in Java's popularity, this situation has now changed.
"Now, 90% of our banking customer base in Europe wants to use Java."
He added, "It's easy to make decisions in hindsight, but it's always hard when you make the decisions when you're the first."
FICS is currently working with the US Bank of Boston on what it claims will be the world's first Java-based corporate banking product. This is expected to be ready in 1998.
Pollard also defended the bank's decision to make its service, which went live in June, available only to users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0 browser. He believes that, although Netscape currently has larger market share, Navigator is likely to be pushed out by IE.
The bank's move to charge its customers for the Internet service is a prelude to further fees, Pollard admitted. "There will be more charges later for added functionality," he confirmed. "We think that's fair."
The bank gives the service free for six months, with a fee of #1.50 a month thereafter. Conventional banking services from Royal Bank of Scotland are free. Internet services cost banks less than conventional methods of dealing with customers.
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