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The popularity of internet banking is growing more rapidly among women than men, according to the latest quarterly survey by Nationwide.

Since the end of last year, about 1 million more women in Britain have begun banking over the internet - compared with 600,000 men. While men are still more likely to be banking online, the gender gap is swiftly shrinking.

Men banking online rose 23% to 3 million in the first five months of 2001. But the number of women has doubled to about 2 million. If the trend continues then it is anticipated that the number of women organising their finances over the net will equal that of men early next year, when more than 8 million people will be banking online.

Currently, 16% of all men and 10% of women with a current account are banking online.

Men are still the heaviest users of the internet, though:

* 46% of male internet users log on every day, compared with 30% of females;

* 18% of women use the internet just once a week. The figure for men is 17%.

Other findings from the Nationwide research include:

* One in three (33%) of homes are now connected to the internet. It was barely one in five (22%) 15 months ago;

* 13% of current account holders or 5.1 million people are banking online. Take-up varies with age, though - 22% of all 25 to 34 year olds are net bankers. Among 55 to 64 year olds, it is 8%;

* Only 13% of internet bankers* say this is their sole method of dealing with their banking provider. 87% use a bank or building society branch, at least occasionally. A further 74% say they make use of the telephone.

The survey was conducted on Nationwide's behalf by MORI. Nationwide's own figures for internet banking reflect its increasing popularity among women. Total registrations were up 225,000 to around 700,000 in the first five months of 2001, with women accounting for about 145,000 or 65% of this growth.

Jim Willens, Nationwide's e-commerce director, said: "The internet has become a mainstream activity and so it's not surprising that more women, as well as men, are making use of it. The days when the internet was the preserve of a technology-minded minority - historically male - are fast disappearing.

"Few new users want to be restricted to doing all their banking this way. Regardless of their sex, they want to be able to combine the ease of internet banking with the convenience and reassurance of alternative channels such as branches and telephone."

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* Participants categorised according to method used to carry out day-to-day banking on their main current account.

Notes to editors:

MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,060 women and 986 men (aged 16+) within Great Britain on behalf of Nationwide between 17 and 22 May. Similar surveys were carried out in February 2000, December 2000 and March 2001.

Nationwide launched the UK's first retail internet banking service in May 1997.

Members registered for internet banking can also access their accounts via Nationwide branches, post and telephone, as well as personal digital assistants operating on the Microsoft Pocket PC platform. WAP phone and full internet TV banking services are being launched this summer.

A graph that accompanies this release can be found on the Nationwide website at: Alternatively, telephone the press office on 01793 655198.

For further details, please contact:

Peter Brown, senior press officer, telephone 01793 655423

Jennifer Stoddart, senior press officer, telephone 01793 655203

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Nationwide Building Society in the following categories: Consumer Technology, Personal Finance, Business & Finance, Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit