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Online Banking is Bigger than Facebook

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Facebook has over 750 million users, has made its founder one of the wealthiest 20 somethings in the world and has changed the way we communicate.

However, despite all this, a new study suggests that the number of people using social networking sites such as Facebook is actually fewer than the proportion of web users who access online banking via their desktop computer, smartphone or tablet.

Building society Nationwide commissioned a recent survey that looked into the different types of online services people use regularly and it found that 77 per cent of respondents list online banking as a top priority.

Interestingly, social network usage was actually the fourth most popular activity for web-savvy people, with around 58 per cent of those questioned saying that they visited sites such as Facebook.

This puts the social side of the web well behind online banking and it is even trailing online holiday booking, which was cited by 65 per cent of respondents as one of their favourite internet activities.

Nationwide spokesperson Richard Searle said that even the people who conducted the survey were surprised by the results.

Given that social media is one of the most talked-about internet phenomena of our time, Mr Searle said that it was not initially considered likely that online banking would emerge as the dominant feature in the study.

Online banking took joint first place in the study alongside online shopping, which was also a favourite web activity amongst 77 per cent of the population.

When broken down into genders, the study revealed that traditional stereotypes do not ring true.

You might assume that men are more likely to spend their time managing current accounts while the women turn to the web to shop.

This was proven to be a fallacy, as men were only three per cent more likely to access their current account over the internet than women.

Meanwhile, the number of women who enjoy online shopping was only four per cent higher than the men, indicating that both sexes like to make the most out of their time on the internet for varied activities.

What is clear from the survey is that internet usage is on the rise, with 12 per cent making daily visits to their online bank to check current account balances and manage their finances.

A quarter of the respondents said that they visit their online banking service between two to four times a week and experts anticipate that this will increase as access is facilitated via convenient tablets and smartphones.

The fact that putting people in touch with their current accounts online is considerably more important than the likes of Facebook and Twitter will be music to the ears of financial institutions. It is also good news for users themselves, because extra investment should broaden the range of services that are available online.

John White is a technology and finance journalist specialising in social media and money management. He is amongst the 12 per cent of people who visit their current accounts online at least once a day.

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