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Could you live without online banking?

Well not that long ago you would’ve had to! This week the World Wide Web celebrates its 25th birthday, and although it’s only a quarter of a century old, it’s hard to remember a time when we were without it.

Happy birthday!

What do pop stars Adele and Rihanna, Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint and the film Die Hard all have in common? The answer is they’re all older than the World Wide Web, which this week turns just 25 – however hard to believe that is.

It was March 1989 when computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee wrote a short proposal for a “large hypertext database with typed links”. The idea was that people could publish content for free on the internet and that pages would be linked to each other by hypertext. It was hardly met with much excitement though - when he left a copy of his proposal on his boss’ desk at CERN, his boss responded by scribbling “vague but interesting” on the page.

Working with a small team, it was just a year later that Berners-Lee launched the first web browser and website. Three years after that, the World Wide Web was getting around 1% of all internet traffic. Today, it’s estimated that 2.5 billion of us use it – and that millions of us use it every day.

Work, rest and play

There’s very little we don’t use the web for nowadays. We can chat or sell to customers on it when we’re at work. We can listen to music, catch up with the TV we’ve missed or share our own creations with others. We can shop without leaving our homes, or sell our own belongings. We can even use it to keep in touch with people we would otherwise have lost contact with, and chat to those on the other side of the world. Most importantly of all, we have access to countless cat videos. It’s only taken 25 years, but it feels as though the web is everywhere.

One of the major breakthroughs of the web is its ability to help us multitask. No longer do you have to wait until you have a free weekend to visit the shops and buy a new outfit – you can just do it online. And if you’re at the shops and find something you really want that costs a little more than you were planning to spend, you can use your phone to check your balance and see if you can afford it. Yes – the web has certainly made life easier.

Virtual banking

In an age when arranging to have some money transferred from your bank account to another’s takes as long as it takes you to visit your bank’s website, sign in and give the transfer order, it’s easy to forget that not too long ago you’d have to visit your actual bank to do this. You’d have to make sure you were free during its opening hours, make the journey to your nearest branch, stand in a queue – all to do something that now takes seconds.

When jobs, family, friends and a host of other commitments take up so much of our time, it helps to be able to do things on the go. And when it comes to banking, it seems that being able to manage our finances whenever and wherever we feel like it is something of a priority.

Research* we conducted last year revealed that when it comes to choosing a current account provider, online banking is a priority to a staggering 80% of us. In fact, it’s more important to us than having a physical branch located nearby. And nearly half (41%) of us access our bank account using our mobile phone – with a quarter of mobile banking customers checking their account at least once a day.

So, no more waiting for our paper bank statement to arrive at the end of the month – we can check the status of our finances with the click of a button. And no more queuing to see a bank teller – if we want something done, we can probably do it ourselves, just by going online.

Yes, the World Wide Web certainly has changed things – and we can hardly wait to see what happens next.

* Consumer Intelligence research carried out a survey of a representative sample of 2,202 UK adults from 31st July - 05th August 2013.

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