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The Almighty Buck

Online Banking And Browser Support 602

robbo writes "Earlier this week, The Register ran a piece on major UK banks and E-commerce sites' refusal to support alternative browsers for online banking, and they followed up with a list of saints and sinners. The reasons vary from requiring support for proprietary technology to security. My own bank only recently started supporting Netscape 6 (but they still don't support Mozilla). Clearly, support for Mozilla, Konqueror, or Galeon are absolutely necessary if projects like GNUCash can successfully integrate online banking. How does the Slashdot crowd find their banking support? Is your bank a sinner or a saint?"
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Online Banking And Browser Support

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  • by gripdamage ( 529664 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:01PM (#4538406)
    My bank isn't online yet you insensitive clod.
  • by DeadBugs ( 546475 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:02PM (#4538413) Homepage
    Mozilla 1.1 works just fine at my little Credit Union (Only 2 offices).

    So if a tiny little non-profit credit union can do it, then the larger banks should have no problem.
    • by ender81b ( 520454 ) <<moc.aksarbeni> <ta> <dllib>> on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:17PM (#4538510) Homepage Journal
      Good for yours, I found out my bank - a fairly large statewide bank - has iffy support across the board. While nearly everything can log in (as long as it supports 128 bit encryption which is a *Good Thing*) various functions don't work. I contacted the people about this and they said they would talk to the vendor soon about it. Well 6 months later I got tired of waiting and took a look at the code myself.

      What was happening was they where using javascript for the pull down menu's that was only set to recognize MSIE 5/6 and Netscape 4/6. Note - this script would work in about everything I tested it in (opera, moz) but it was just set to only work if it detected those browser's strings. I sent them the fixed .js file that would work for everything but, of course, they declined to use it.

      Sigh. Not much I can do about it anymore - besides set opera to identify itself as MSIE 5.0 but that doesn't help with mozilla.
      • by dizco ( 20340 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @08:40PM (#4539153)
        Sigh. Not much I can do about it anymore

        You could find another bank.. they do exist.

  • First Citizens [firstcitizens.com] e-banking site works fine with Mozilla on both Windows and Linux.

    I hesitate to call any bank a Saint, but in at least this one regard, First Citizens are more Saint than Sinner.

  • Wells Fargo (Score:5, Informative)

    by megaversal ( 229407 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:03PM (#4538418)
    2 years ago Wells Fargo had an issue with the latest Netscape, but aside from that they've supported every Mozilla I've ever used.
    • Re:Wells Fargo (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Joe Tie. ( 567096 )
      I had a very refreshing experience with them. I started a new account there about a year ago, and a few months later someone called me up to make sure I was aware of their online banking. I'd had so many bad experiences with banks and non IE browsers that I hadn't even bothered trying. He actually quickly mentioned that their banking will work fine with Mozilla under Linux.

      I know it's just one guy rather than some all reaching Linux education program there, but it was still very refreshing to not have someone in that position telling me that I should upgrade to Internet Explorer.
    • Re:Wells Fargo (Score:3, Informative)

      by Matt ( 78254 )
      Wells Fargo's online banking site [wellsfargo.com] has worked fine for me with Opera and Mozilla, both on Linux and on my Mac.

      The only problem I've ever had with it involved an old version of Opera. I can't well describe what I saw, but it apparently was just a bug in Opera that was later fixed.

    • Re:Wells Fargo (Score:2, Informative)

      by cerebus99 ( 520396 )
      I have used IE, Netscape 4.7 and Communicator as well as Opera and Konquerer and Mozilla to great affect.
    • Re:Wells Fargo (Score:3, Informative)

      by ncc74656 ( 45571 )
      2 years ago Wells Fargo had an issue with the latest Netscape, but aside from that they've supported every Mozilla I've ever used.

      I think their browser check only goes so far as to look at the user-agent string instead of anything potentially more sophisticated. For sh*ts and grins, I tried logging in with Lynx (an SSL-enabled build, of course) one time. As I expected, they rejected it.

      I tried this next:

      lynx -useragent="Mozilla/4.0 (compatible ; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)" https://banking.wellsfargo.com

      That got around the browser check just fine...and the site was surprisingly navigable with Lynx, too. If you're using something other than IE/NS/Moz and you can set the user-agent string, try it out with your bank and see how it works.

  • Nationwide (Score:4, Informative)

    by JayJayEm ( 220851 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:03PM (#4538419)
    Kudos to Nationwide [nationwide.co.uk] (UK Building Society), whose online banking site I've successfully used with Mozilla and Konqueror (3.0) as well as IE. Everything seems to work as it should.
  • I love netbank (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:05PM (#4538432) Homepage
    netbank rocks -- it's great for folks like me who move a lot and don't need physical bank access. Free bill payment, plus great interest rates and I don't think I've ever paid a fee for anything.

    Works fine for me in Mozilla, and has ever since I switched to moz last year.

    I used to be with SFNB, the first totally "online" bank, but when they were bought out a few years ago, they started charging fees like a regular bank, which kind of defeated the whole point of reducing transaction costs by being online.
    • Re:I love netbank (Score:3, Informative)

      by bastion_xx ( 233612 )
      I have to add kudos to NetBank too. MSIE6 works fine (duh!) and so does IE for the Mac along with OmniWeb. No support for Lynx though.

      When I repatriated last year, retail banks didn't want my account due to a lack of banking history. NetBank was fast, efficient, and gives great rates.

      My only complaint is that you cannot see deposit advices ahead of time, which is something my company does. Must be a batch system in the back for transaction history.
    • Amen! (Score:3, Informative)

      Ditto here, had SFNB, they were great, but then RBC wanted outrageous fees, even charging me not only the now-extra monthly fee merely to have an account, but an extra monthly fee (I think $12 or so!) to pay bills online. I oculd not believe that they would charge me $12 to NOT write paper checks. Found Netbank and have been 90% happy ever since. I do wish they would send email status updates of received snail mail deposits (received, cleared).
  • I use Chase for a few credit cards and USBank as a primary checking/savings bank and I have had no problems with Mozilla (on Windows or Linux) since about Mozilla 0.8. I don't even have to turn on user-agent spoofing at all.

    To make banks listen you have to speak in the only language they know: money. If their site doesn't support your preferred browser, close your account and make sure you let them know it's because they don't support you. Then just find another bank that does, it doesn't sound like it would be all that difficult.
  • by FyRE666 ( 263011 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:06PM (#4538436) Homepage
    To be fair, it's probably not the Banks etc that set the terms to limit the browsers that access their sites. It's lazy developers, which are almost certainly web-dev companies trying to complete a project that they've managed to land by bidding low.

    I've been guilty of it in the past - having to rush out a project, and not taking the time to test on every browser across every platform. The "IE only" disclaimer is an excuse for the most part.

    It's worth complaining to the company though, especially if you mention they're being ridiculed on a number of extremely popular tech news sites ;-)
    • Often I've been in a situation where I hear "there are things other than IE?" and "I use IE, I don't care to think about anything else" from the people calling the shots as far as the specs & what will be paid for.

      Then we have to go back to them with our site stats and say "are you willing to piss off X percent of users?" Luckily they wake up then. Lately, we've reversed the position - we tell them what browsers we're supporting, and why we cut off specific support for some browser versions where we do.

      There are a lot of "Internet users" who don't have any concept of the Internet beyond IE, and even scarier, they're now the ones deciding how sites should be built.
    • by Stradivarius ( 7490 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @08:27PM (#4539090)
      I don't think it's fair to place the blame entirely on "lazy developers".

      As I see it, there are two possibilities when a bank site doesn't work with non-IE browsers:

      1. The bank wanted a solution that would work with all browsers, but the developer cut corners and didn't provide it.
      2. The bank didn't care.

      For #2, I think it's safe to say the blame lies solely with the bank.

      For #1, it seems the blame is largely with the developers. After all, the site's ability to work with all browsers was either explicitly stated, or it was implied. There's no reason an ordinary person would think "I want you to build my website" would be interpreted as "I want you to build a website that only some of my customers can use". Unless the developer explicitly states that their proposal is limited to IE, the expectation is (rightfully) that there is no such limitation.

      At the same time, though, any organization contracting out such a significant job has a responsibility to exercise some due diligence. Especially a financial organization, due to the need for security. They ought to do enough research (either themselves, or hire a consultant) to know how to discriminate between competing bids. And they ought to ensure before accepting a bid that the developer truly understands their requirements, and that all requirements are in the contract. If they do all that, and the developer doesn't provide everything they said they would, that's breach of contract. If the bank doesn't do its due diligence, then it has to accept a share of the blame for having a half-assed website.

      FWIW, Bank of America's site seems to work fine with Mozilla.
  • www.waterhouse.com doesn't work for beans in anything except IE, and the site has always been very cluttered and slow.
  • by Vlijmen Fileer ( 120268 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:07PM (#4538445)
    The banks are doing wrong something else; they are "developing" for certain browsers, while they /should/ be designing with accepted web standards.
    Then there would be less problems. Web designers and browser developers can then both spend more time on adding functionality, because they only have to support 1 peer instead of n.
    My bank, the Dutch ABNAMRO, states somewhere that they only support IE. But Mozilla works, although a tad ugly.
  • TD CanadaTrust is easily supporting alternatives. I have used both Chimera and Opera (IE masquerade) succesfully.
  • by bLanark ( 123342 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:08PM (#4538457)
    Things will only change if you actually do something about it. I *always* complain if I have the time, I will mail the webmaster and point out that there is an HTML standard, point them at a dodgy validation of their site via validator.w3.org [w3.org], and point out that they lose money, one way or another.

    So get off your ass, knock up a form letter, keep it handy, and complain!

    The future is partly in your hands.
    • by Dolly_Llama ( 267016 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:34PM (#4538596) Homepage
      Forget the webmaster, write the suits a letter about how their site is out of W3 compliance, even better raise some IE security issues.
    • by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @07:10PM (#4538756) Homepage
      I *always* complain if I have the time

      You must be fun at a parties.

      The world needs more people like you :-)

      Seriously, though, one thing I wished more people did, was at least do the converse as well, and write a letter letting a company know when you think they've done something *right*. It's almost unheard of; people often intend to, but never get around to it, unlike letters of complaint.

    • by ma++i+ude ( 580592 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @08:20PM (#4539065) Homepage
      So get off your ass, knock up a form letter, keep it handy, and complain!

      I did. It looks something like this.

      Dear Sir / Madam,

      An article published on The Register a few days ago (and available at http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/23/27756.html ) prompted me to write to you regarding the browser support on your Online Banking service. A long-time Linux user browsing with Mozilla and a customer of your bank for a couple of years now, I am very frustrated by your lack of consideration in supporting alternative operating systems and web browsers. Supporting only one or two platforms for such an essential service as online banking shows short-sightedness and disregard for your customers.

      There are various reasons why it is a bad idea to limit your support to certain web browsers or operating systems and instead use proprietory solutions. These include:

      - Some people are unable to use certain technologies. The visually impaired, for example, may need special hardware and/or software to access the Web. Phone banking is not an acceptable alternative; everyone should have access to the World Wide Web. The World Wide Web Consortium (www.w3.org) is working hard to achieve this goal by setting standards, so breaking them is inherently the wrong thing to do.

      - The actual standards in place today are very secure and well designed, something which cannot be said about the proprietory extensions in most Microsoft products. Limiting your support to certain 'tested' browsers is by no means going to improve the security of your system; in fact, trying to improve security through using Microsoft products is an oxymoron and laughable at best.

      - The method by which you are trying to limit access is useless but annoying. Most 'alternative' browsers allow the user to set their browser identification to anything they like, that is, the browser will present itself as, say, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0. Therefore, most knowledgeable users who are unable to access your site because of this limitation will change their browser identification and be permitted. However, this is a bad idea because (a) it will produce misleading browser statistics for you, (b) it lets anyone access your site tailored for a certain, non-standard-compliant browser, and (c) it may lead to situations where the user is allowed access but, because of the non-standard nature of your site, will not be able to navigate as intended.

      I realise that Microsoft Internet Explorer is by far the most popular browser but there are many alternatives available. Ignoring these alternatives is utterly irresponsible of you, as well as bad business practice. Even if just ten per cent of people use the alternative browsers, that's ten per cent of potential customers to lose to your more considerate competitors.

      The Register published a hall-of-fame as well as a hall-of-shame (http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/27777.html ). Of your competitors, Barclays, Lloyds TSB and Nationwide are among the considerate. I am sure I can find a bank which values its customers by providing the means to actually use their money. Unless I can see a considerable improvement in your support in this matter, I will be forced to change banks.


  • Chase Manhattan (Score:3, Informative)

    by fat32 ( 620360 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:08PM (#4538460)
    According to the same article, Chase Manhattan's online web client has serious problems with stability, security and breaches of privacy as well as a severe lack of open standards at almost every level of the implementation.

    Having used it, I can vouch that this is true. The GUI is exclusively ActiveX, which works only on some versions of IE. I have to assume there is some windows web/db system driving the backend, at least in front of the mainframe (or whatever is holding the real bank records).

    And it seems this is rather common among bank clients, even among smaller banks and credit unions. On three bank sites I looked at recently, two explicitly stated that IE was necessary, and on the third it was implied.
  • You can find a partial list of banks/cc companies and their Mozilla support here [blue-labs.org]

    I only care because I've been following the capitalone.com bug [mozilla.org] for months with no help whatsoever from them.. Oh well. The MBNA [mbna.com] site for my Linux Fund card [linuxfund.org] works fine. I'll be cancelling my capitalone card soon.
  • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:12PM (#4538485)
    I've been using online banking since the whole thing started... using the web for probably seven years, with SFNB (the first online bank, showing off S1's software), to RBC and now RBC/Centura. They've always listed such-and-such browser version requirements, and I've never had a problem using another browser before.

    How many banks really *block* a given browser? And if they do, how many really wouldn't work if you masqueraded your user agent?

    It sucks that these places don't officially support other browsers, but if anyone here has ever worked on an externally-facing web-based software package, you know that there is just so many combinations of things your QA department can test, and a good company will only say they support those, even if they know others would work. Its not responsible to say you support Mozilla if you've only ever tested Netscape 6, officially.
  • by dirk ( 87083 ) <dirk@one.net> on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:13PM (#4538487) Homepage
    While in theory it would be great for banks to support everything out there, the reality is they just can't. They have to pick the biggest browsers and target their software for them. Imagine if they said they supported any browser available, how many different tech people would you need to sort through a problem? "Well, it works on IE, Netscape, and Opera, but Mozilla nd Konquere don't work, we need to figure out the problem and then rework the whole page." And they woudl also have to support user calls on every browser, which could also be a nightmare. This isn;t a generic website, this is banking information. They need to limit the possible ways things can break, which means they need to limit the software that can be used. If there is a problem discovered with Opera (for example) that suddenly means the information going to your browser isn't secure, people will blame the bank, not the browser. If your password gets hacked because Konquer (or IE, or whatever) does something wrong, people will hold the bank responsible, even if it's because they didn't upgrade their own browser.
    • by reaper20 ( 23396 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:27PM (#4538565) Homepage
      They have to pick the biggest browsers and target their software for them.

      You don't write web pages for browsers, you write web pages to standards [w3c.org].

      It's not too hard, for inspiration, Wired News [wirednews.com] recently switched to full xhtml compliance with css. Their stuff works fine in any compliant browser.

      People who complain about "I try to write to standards but all the browsers are broken", or "you can only do $feature on a certain browser" are lazy. That was a valid excuse 5 years ago, but not today. It is easier to write the stuff compliant to begin with than play around with stupid browser detection and NS4.x workarounds.
    • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:37PM (#4538609) Homepage Journal
      Thats just bullshit. My experience with various online banks is that the ones that are the most usable also work flawlessly across browsers. Why? Because they don't try to make their sites use all kind of fancy crap that just slow down and complicate things. When I log on to my online bank, I want to do one of checking my balance, looking at statements, or paying bills. Why would you need to use anything beyond basic HTML for that? Perhaps there are a few functions you want to use basic Javascript for, fine, but nothing that can't be trivially done so that it'll work even in Netscape 4, and nothing that should prevent the site from working with Javascript off.

      I currently use Barclays (UK), and their site demonstrate my point well. It works. It's reasonably fast (and when it isn't, it's because their system is overloaded, not because they're trying to push hundreds of kb's of crap to my browser), and it works flawlessly even with Lynx (thought their pages look like crap, since they don't use empty alt tags to hide all their pixel gifs...

      Can you explain to me exactly which advanced functionality your bank need to use to make their site work that hasn't been there since HTML 1.0?

      • It doesn't matter whether the browser "works flawlssly" or not. Banks don't want the slightest possiblility of being liable (or appearing at fault) for people losing money. (Bank lets you use a browser that is written to send hackers your bank account number and pin) = (Bank looks really bad). (Bank lets you use a browser that has a bug that results in money transfer requests being posted twice to the server) = (Bank loses customers).

        Quite honestly, I'm surprised banks don't release a custom version of Mozilla, or a proprietary non-web app to customers, and restrict interaction to only that application.

        The number of potential web customers a bank loses due to not supporting GNUMyFavoriteBrowser 5.123r43b5, regardless of how good it is, is irrelevant compared to what they could lose if they do.

      • "Can you explain to me exactly which advanced functionality your bank need to use to make their site work that hasn't been there since HTML 1.0?"

        Have you not read the HTML standards? HTML 1.0 didn't support anything but basic hyperlinking and the <PRE> tag. See here [ariadne.ac.uk] for more details. HTML 1.0 didn't support tables, forms, frames, etc. (Warning: Link is extremely dated.)

        As I said earlier [slashdot.org], I code my pages to the XHTML 1.0 standard. That means that Netscape 4.x won't render them properly, as Netscape 4 relies on a number of non-standard HTML tags and attributes (marginwidth, marginheight, height, etc.) In fact, Netscape 4 is so buggy when it comes to CSS that there are whole pages [oc3.no] dedicated to its bugginess. (Search Google [google.com] for more.)

        Moral of the story: Code your pages to standards, and make sure they work in IE 5.0, 5.5, and 6.0. Beyond that, it's up to each individual web developer.
      • You say, "My experience with various online banks is that the ones that are the most usable also work flawlessly across browsers."

        Let me expand on that: in my experience with sites of all descriptions, the ones that are most usable also work flawlessly across browsers.

        And this is exactly for the reasons you state: they keep it as simple as it CAN be for everything to still work.

        What's more, these sites are often the most legible as well as the most visually-attractive, even with js and image loading off!!

  • I don't run a bank, or work at a bank, or illictly access a bank, but I find it very repressive to have a hoard (whored) of Slashdotters complaining about how their special browser doesn't work with other people's sites. Since when does the minority dictate how those who must target the majority do business? They have to aim somewhere; NS and IE are nowhere near close to the Internet standards; each have their differing ECMA/Javascript properties, documents, and accessors--you can't "code for the" standards without losing ridiclous amounts of functionality our customers demand .


    • Bull.

      Why should a bank have anything on their site that requires a specific browser? Its not a game site, its a bank. As long as they stick to some very simple rules, any browswer will work.
    • Since when does the minority dictate how those who must target the majority do business?

      I completely agree. Only last week I had to listen to the cheek of some idiot saying how I should have put a wheelchair ramp in so he could access my store! The week before that some black guy complained because I wouldnt serve him - it's my right isnt it?
      • I completely agree. Only last week I had to listen to the cheek of some idiot saying how I should have put a wheelchair ramp in so he could access my store!

        Apples/Oranges. You can install another browser or operating system or use a friend's computer to access your bank website if you need to. It's a feature, not a necessity.

        However, the guy in the wheel chair can't borrow someone's legs to access your facility, which could be a necessity (depending on what your facility is).
      • "The week before that some black guy complained because I wouldnt serve him - it's my right isnt it?"

        I knew someone would bring that up. The difference between this and what browser you use is that your skin color or physical ability usually isn't your choice. Most people don't wake up one day and say "I think I will be disabled today" or "I think I will be a minority race today". You pretty much are or you aren't, and you can't usually change it easily.

        The browser you use, on the other hand, is entirely your choice. You do have the ability to use Internet Explorer. (And none of this "I use Linux so I can't use IE" stuff... you chose to use Linux as well.) For the most part, when you switch to a different browser, you are aware that some sites will not work well with that browser.

        I code my pages to the XHTML standard. I refuse to support Netscape 4.x because it does not support standards. My pages don't work on Mozilla 1.0 because of a bug in Mozilla 1.0's XHTML rendering. Does that mean I should break my layout because Mozilla 1.0 has a bug, considering Mozilla 1.0 is less than one percent of my readership?

        The latest browser stats [onestat.com] show that Netscape 4 has 1.2% of the market and that Mozilla 1.x has 0.8% of the market. This means that web developers need to spend more time working with the 94.9% of the population that uses Internet Explorer than the decided minority that uses another browser.

        Let's face it -- all browsers have quirks. "Coding to standards" will not always solve the problem (as I mentioned above.) Thus, most web developers code for the 95% of their audience that is on IE first, and then choose to make sites compatible with minority browsers at their discretion. If you spend 50% of your development time working around bugs in Netscape 4.x (which has more market share than either Mozilla 1.x or Opera), is that an effective use of your time? If you "code to standards" and your site still doesn't work in Mozilla or Opera, is troubleshooting the problem an effective use of your time considering that those two browsers count for less than 2% of your audience? Like it or not, the answer is most often "No."
      • There's a difference between what's required by law and what would "be nice to have". Sure it's your right to use whatever web browser you want, but don't expect anyone to to start crying because you get an error in Konqueror.

        The truth is that when a bank builds an online banking application and they start UAT testing, there will be no mention of Mozillas, Operas and Konquerors. You'll be lucky if it works in NS 4.72+ and IE 5.0.

        You honestly think anyone is screaming in board meetings "Good heavens, our application doesn't work in Opera!"

        The only reason why some of these applications work in Opera/Mozilla is just by chance that they emulate the popular web browsers.

      • You're missing the point. The parent is pointing out that due to bugs and badly implemented features, some browsers are mutually exclusive. And when given the choice "90% of the market xor 10% of the market", the answer is obvious.
    • by bomb_number_20 ( 168641 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:29PM (#4538578)
      I'm sure this is flamebait, but....

      The problem is that there is an open set of standards out there that banks should be developing to- not specific browsers. Otherwise, there isn't any point in having standards, is there?

      And yes, you can code to standards without killing cross-browser compatibility. I think the idea that you can't is one of the biggest myths of web development. It takes work, but then if you are a professional that should be your job.

      Generally speaking, I think these sites come around through lazy or inexperienced developers who only know or are required to use a specific set of tools because it's 'cost-effective' and/or 'faster' instead of actually doing their job.

      Whether it's the developers fault or management is up in the air- probably a little bit of both.
    • They have a right to not support anything but Internet Explorer, but we have the same right to know about it when making a choice of whether to use their bank. If they don't support a browser I can actually use I'd say I have a right to make an informed choice to instead use one of their competitors who can.
  • by isorox ( 205688 )
    I use the online banking of HSBC [hsbc.co.uk] all the time, in mozilla and konqueror, with no problems at all. Well recommended.
  • Bank of America works great with Mozilla. Back when they were NationsBank, it took them a little while to support Moz, but their support for Netscape was fine until they caught up.

    I wonder how many of the "sinner" banks use IIS? NationsBank uses Netcape/iPlanet so in that regard they haven't sold out to the dark side, yet. Does the server platform somehow reflect on their browser support??
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:16PM (#4538504) Homepage
    The article says:
    Linux users, or just people who prefer alternative browsers (such as Opera)

    Ahhh! This is the very cause of the problem! Why are they acting like IE is the "standard" and everything else is "alternative!" Is Ford standard, but Chevrolet alternative?

    Another scary point is that these articles indicate that browser spoofing often works. This means that the only reason some of these sites don't work, is because they refuse to! There are no real incompatibilities

    • Welcome to Earth! On this planet, IE *IS* the standard. With genral usage at right about 95%, it has been the standard for several years. Ford and Chevy can't be compared, because neither is dominant in any market. If one of them had 95% market share, then yes, they would be standard.

      I'm so tired of the same old "W3C is the standard" horseshit. Get over it. The W3C is irrelevant. It has been for years. Scream until you're blue in the face, but until you can convince billions of people to follow that arbitrary "standard", you're just wasting oxygen. IE is the standard. Deal with it. Move on with life. It isn't that important.
    • IE is standard because it's the most popular web browser. When banks analyze their log file traffic and 90%+ of their traffic is coming from IE, then yes, people get the impression that IE is the standard.

      Does IE actually use "standards" though? Well, that's another argument. Unfortunately, the most popular browser becomes the browser that sites get coded against. Consequently, it becomes the standard.

      I would say that Opera is an alternative browser too. The average web user has no idea what Opera is. Even if they did know what it is, why would they even want another web browser when IE is conviently located on their desktop? Man, if the IE icon isn't right on the start menu, quick launch toolbar and on the desktop, my family has no idea where the icon is.

      And it's a good thing Ford isn't the standard otherwise we would have to deal with more of this [crownvicto...yalert.com] and that [dot.gov] but I digress
      • by zurab ( 188064 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @08:18PM (#4539062)
        When banks analyze their log file traffic and 90%+ of their traffic is coming from IE, then yes, people get the impression that IE is the standard.

        In a related story, all branches of various major banks have concluded analysis of their customers' outfits when entering the bank. One of the key statistics revealed by this analysis was that over 90% of customers entering a bank wore long pants or dresses (mainly female). Customers wearing shorts were at about 7% of the total, and the rest was undistinguishable clothing.

        Following this key statistic, all of the major banks have decided to deny entry and service to anyone wearing shorts by having one security guard outside of every branch. "Most our customers don't wear shorts anyway" - pointed out one of the senior VPs, who asked to remain anonymous. Wearing shorts was also attributed to having "less secure pocketing architecture" with more likelihood of tears, "losing stuff", and largely insecure banking atmosphere. Other reports have stated that shorts are not really appropriate when entering a financial institution to conduct a professional transaction.

        Everyone at the end agrees that standard (long) pants and dresses (mostly for women) are a standard outfit, and barring customers wearing shorts from these bank branches would not eventually have a significant impact. Yet some of these people passionately standing by these alternative outfits have found other ways to "fool" banks. Some have reported that the latest in loose and somewhat longer shorts fashion allowed them to deceive the bank guards and pass by them undetected. Some of these "hackers" pointed out that "pushing your shorts down your waist" can help one a lot. It is also worth pointing out that this strategy will not work in all banks and all branches. Unofficial reports state that some bank guards are instructed to check every questionable clothing item thoroughly before allowing anyone inside.

        Meanwhile, various cunsumer protection and civil liberties groups have cried foul, arguing that everyone wearing a decent outfit, including shorts, should be allowed inside the branches. Banks, however, remain firm in their approach to only allow standard outfits for now, but did not exclude the possibility of revisiting the issue 2 to 3 years down the road.
  • I'm Canadian (Score:3, Informative)

    by vectus ( 193351 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:16PM (#4538508)
    And I use Royal Bank.. their site supports everything I've tried. I was so amazed I sent their tech support an email about how great it was to be able to use Konqueror to do my banking.
  • ...timothy's bank (cited as a shining example in the original post) still doesn't let me in when I'm using Opera 6.05, despite my lying about the browser I'm using. Security reasons, of course. Glad I can get in with that paragon of trustworthiness, IE.

    Editors: Next time check that your shining examples aren't just fool's gold.

    I'm getting more and more annoyed hearing about little tiny credit unions that work happily with Opera, Moz, and Phoenix while my monolithic, monopolistic (actually, in Canada it's more properly described as an oligopoly) behemoth of a bank won't recognize my browser.

    On the plus side, kudos to ING Direct (the Canadian subsidiary of the European ING Group) for supporting Opera.

  • The thing is, most of the bank require the browser to be IE, but you can still access them by changing the User-Agent. Most of the time, the site features are fully usable.

    Of course, this shows how stupid they are at blocking non-IE browsers, since it works well without it, but I think it's mostly a question of caring for the minority, because more than 90% of web users use IE.

    What about geeks switching banks for one who do care for them ? :)
  • I bank with a small credit union and Galeon works fine with their pages, and the system's pretty fast. I prefer credit unions to big name banks when I can get them. They seem less inclined to screw you over anyway.
  • Their site works fine with Galeon, Mozilla, and IE. I haven't tried Konqueror. Online banking in Canada is part of most account packages (there are no extra fees just for online banking). An online transaction is counted as a transaction towards your regularly allowed number of transactions (which could be unlimited if you keep a certain minimum).
  • Just call the bank (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HTD ( 568757 )

    Well here in Austria the Raiffeisen Bank had a few incompatibilities with Netscape 6 (when it came out) and Opera 5. I just called them, told them what it was and how to fix it and a week later the online banking thingy worked with all last generation browsers.

    On the other side there are banks here that still use custom windows software with dial-in (cool for all Linux, Apple, DSL and Cable users/owners isn't it) or bet on Java Applets which of course only work in one browser be it Netscape or MSIE. Don't ask me how they manage to get applets working only on one platform and browser. Well i would switch bank if my online banking solution does not work for me - so switch and tell your bank why you switched, then things might change.

  • Tried it in Mozilla, opera, Pheonix, and IE. Works fine in all cases.
  • TD bank (Score:2, Informative)


    I've had no trouble with Mozilla and TD's Easyweb service. Pay bills, transfer money, etc. Nice clean layout too.

  • I've used the following companies at various points in the past (and a few I still use):

    Fleet Bank/Credit Services: refused to let me log in using a non-Windows browser. I closed my accounts w/ them specifically because they wouldn't even respond to queries regarding compatiblity issues w/ their website.

    MBNA: No problems using either Netscape 4.x or Mozilla for Linux. Didn't like the way they have bill payment setup on their website, but no problems accessing.

    Citibank/AT&T Universal: They both use the same website (although you have to have separate login names). No problems using either Netscape 4.x or Mozilla for Linux.

    Discover: No problems using either Netscape 4.x or Mozilla for Linux. They were the first credit card company that I ever came across to allow online account access & bill payment (Citibank wasn't far behind them).

    redit Union (local, one branch college credit union that I still use): No problems using either Netscape 4.x or Mozilla for Linux. Mozilla occasionally has difficulties displaying the account history table (the first column will take up the entire width of the window, and the rest get crammed into tiny columns), reloading the page a few times will usually fix it.

    In case you hadn't figured it out, these are all US based institutions.
    • I use citibank for my online banking and it works just fine with Mozilla. I'm not sure why The Register listed them as a sinner. Their interface is solid and intuitive as far as I'm concerned.

  • Since about Mozilla 9.9, online banking at allfirst.com has worked quite well. All I do with it is to check my account balances and histories, and transfer money between checking and savings, so maybe there are some other features that don't work, but it's fine for me. You can download stuff in MS Excel format, CSV, PDF, etc.; it's pretty good.

    Now, as far as banks go, Allfirst isn't the best in the world, but since I don't exactly have piles of money from my lowly freshmeat contractor and college newspaper jobs, it'll do for the present :)

  • First Internet Bank [firstib.com] supports Mozilla very, very well. This almost makes up for the fact that the first version of their software didn't support Mozilla or Netscape at all.

    The fact that they can get changes made to their software fairly easily in response to customer complaints / suggestions is not terribly surprising considering that their software vendor [vifi.com], until recently, was run by their CEO and Chairman of the Board.
  • Banco do Brasil (Score:2, Informative)

    by fok ( 449027 )
    Banco do Brasil supports Mozilla/Netscape.
    They have implemented a java based 'virtual keyboard' a while ago and this broke mozilla support. Then, when java 1.4 was out, every thing was back to normal. I could use on-line banking from anywhere again.
  • No, the way things will REALLY change is if:

    - If the group of linux geeks grows to more than just a miniscule, fringe group

    - Open source coders develop developer & platform tools as robust as those offered by the likes of Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, etc. Right now, nothing approaches these folks, and only a fool IT manager would literally "Bet the bank" on unaccountable, open source technologies.

    Don't get me wrong, noncommercial open source is great, but it just doesn't make sense in some areas. There's no aggressive development cycle, and no real accountability.

    I wish people would stop bitching about their obscure browsers not working with this or that...
    • Your second argument is bullshit. What client software the bank let their customers use is in no way related to what they use to run their banking platform on. There's no reason why the bank can't continue to use whatever software they prefer, and still create a website that works well with Opera, Mozilla, Netscape, IE, Lynx and whatever anyone throws at it from the same code base, if they just get a clue and require their development and design teams to design for simplicity and standards compliance instead of throwing in useless "features" that doesn't do anything for usability of the site and instantly cause compatibility problems.
      • You must have skipped over the part where he said "unaccountable." Who's to blame if 1000s of people use SkippyWeb, a new browser written anonymously by scammers in Nigeria that steals bank account numbers and pins? Well... that leaves us with the bank, and the customer. Neither option is good for bank business.
      • They do design to standards, they design to IE. But that's beside the point.

        What is one good reason that banks should spend an extra manhour of time developing for multiple browsers? Is there a single financial reason to do it? Are they mising a large customer base?

        No. Anybody who knows the first thing about business would look at this scenario and say, "don't bother". The risk (support and development time & money) isn't worth the reward (getting a few open source zealots' $100 checking accounts, which, incidentally, cost them more money than they make).

        It's a fucking stupid business decision to buck the trend. It's especially fucking stupid for a bank to do anything that's remotely not mainstream.
  • I haven't had much trouble using banking.wellsfargo.com from Konqueror (KDE2). I did have problems registering, but once its registered, it has worked so far. I had to register using IE. But Konq isn't on thier list of supported browsers either

    But wouldn't it be better if instead of determining specific browsers if they had a list of supported technologies?
  • by md17 ( 68506 ) <james AT jamesward DOT org> on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:44PM (#4538632) Homepage
    Since I do 95% of my banking online, and use Gentoo Linux [gentoo.org] on the desktop, it is an essential that my bank in Mozilla compatible. When I was a Bank One [bankone.com] they changed some stuff which made their site non Mozilla compatible. I politely sent them an email and asked them to fix it. They did not. So I switched to Wells Fargo [wellsfargo.com] where now I enjoy Mozilla compatible online banking. Way to go Wells Fargo! (BTW: Bank One might have fixed this, since it was about 1 year ago.)
  • harrisdirect.com (Score:2, Informative)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 )
    DLJDirect -> CSFBDirect -> harrisdirect.com my broker...

    If you can keep up with thier constant buyouts and name changing, they were always really responsive. I complained that their navbar had flaky javascript on it that was totally unnecessary, and in a week it was gone. Other than that, they always were very compatible with any browser I wanted to use, which is pretty nice considering it's a pretty complex online trading platform.


    Sometimes good, sometimes bad... They change their code so often, it's a tossup as to whether your browser will make it past the signin screen. I've mostly had problems logging in, if I can get logged in, things usually work fine. One thing that is bad is if you don't set your browser to auto-accept all cookies, the site will constantly screw your session up, even if you manually accept the cookies. At least it used to. As I said, they change their code a lot.
  • My bank (Washington Mutual) supports EVERYTHING that can handle SSL. I fired off a nice note to the webmaster - and it was appreciated. Pat the good people on the back now and then!

  • by Jack Hughes ( 5351 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:50PM (#4538655) Homepage
    ...Because that is surely missing the point.

    I want them to support standards like HTML, XHTML, CSS and so on.

    Then the sites will work with any current or future client technology that also supports those standards.

    Nowadays, there is no reason why your site should not be valid [w3c.org]

  • Someone has already made a much better chart of how various Linux browsers do at various banks around the world. Check out the site [starnix.com].

    The chart lists 302 banks in 32 countries and indicates whether someone has reported success with Netscape 4, Netscape 6/7, Mozilla, Galeon, Konquerer 2, Konqueror 3, Opera, and Elinks.

    Help him fill in the chart if you have info on an unlisted bank or on a browser for a listed bank by e-mailing Evan [mailto]
  • RoyalBank (Score:2, Informative)

    by RomikQ ( 575227 )
    My bank supports pretty much any browser, as long as it can handle an ssl connection. However, I know that csbc wasn't supporting mozilla about half a year ago, don't know how it is now (probably the same).

    And really, there I can't see any reason why some browsers would not be allowed to use the online system. I mean I understand that they might design the site with IE in mind, but why not just say something like "Use whatever you like, that has ssl, but we won't offer technical support to anything but IE" and put one of those ugly "best viewed with Internet Explorer" banners?
  • I do my regular banking with 5/3rd Bank, and I have credit cards accounts I work with online with MBNA, Providian, Cross Country Bank, and Shell Oil. I know from regular usage that all of them work with IE, Mozilla, Opera, or Phoenix. Maybe I just got lucky :-)

  • Bank of America (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hawkstone ( 233083 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @06:53PM (#4538670)
    Just my $.019999:

    Bank of America hasn't given me any problems, from Netscape 4 to Mozilla 1.1. I wouldn't necessarily say they are some wonderful bank -- they are a huge corporation and have all the associated pains, but at least they're not making me use Internet Exploder.

    I refuse to use IE. If someone requires IE, they typically don't get my business and they usually get a nasty note as well. Same goes for sites that *require* flash, BTW. I only installed flash because of the games [slashdot.org] it lets me play. :)

  • Navy Federal Credit Union [navyfcu.org] works fine with everything I have ever tried. IE, Kmeleon, Opera (Linux and Win), and whatever version of Mozilla/Netscape RH7.3 comes with and get this... Usable with Lynx on a console. The general bank information like rate calculators, online applications and some of the general info links did not work so well so its a little tricky getting to the account access part but, it works pretty good once logged in to my account. I have not tried the web bill paying portion with all of the browsers, which is handled 3rd party via Checkfree. I do know that Opera and the whatever RH 7.3 comes with but it works with that also. I tried to include some text from a Lynx section but I couldn't get past the lameness filter..

    Multiple browser support CAN be done...

  • LloydsTSB (Score:2, Informative)

    by Handpaper ( 566373 )
    I use LloydsTSB's internet banking service with konqueror and havce never had any problems with it. However, trying to get a motor insurance quote from their in-house insurance division ( www.insurance.co.uk ) results in the all-too-common Javascript-driven IE/Netscape only pages. Other insurance companies ( Its4me.com et al ) don't seem to find multibrowser compatibility a problem.

    6/10 to LloydsTSB.

  • This isn't technically banking, but Citi didn't support Mozilla for online credit card management until recently. About a year ago I complained to customer support and got a standard response. A few months later CitiCards.com [citicards.com] started working on Mozilla. (Related or not? Who knows. But it couldn't have hurt.) I emailed support again and thanked them.

    By the way, DiscoverCard.com [discovercard.com] worked the whole time.

    Oh, and my bank ehbt.com [ehbt.com] works fine. It's a third-party thing from fundsexpress.com [fundsexpress.com] FYI.

  • by itp ( 6424 )
    USAA [usaa.com] has excellent browser support. I mailed them a few weeks ago about a rendering problem with Mozilla/Galeon, and it was fixed within a few days. The bug didn't even prohibit use of the site, it just made certain menus not work, so that navigation was more difficult.

    Unfortunately, not everyone can become a member; see the URL for more information.
  • E*Trade (Score:2, Informative)

    E*Trade bank's website works great in Mozilla. They also pay interest on checking accounts, reimburse you for ATM fees, refill your checks for free, and offer free online bill pay. (All the above requires a min. balance of $5000). Highly recommended!
  • my bank, suntrust [suntrust.com], is somewhere in between. it leans toward the saintly side because the entire actual online banking system [suntrust.com] works perfectly on mozilla, but their website itself [suntrust.com] gives a message saying that browsers of the netscape 6/mozilla family aren't supported (netscape 4.* is supported). i'm not sure why this is.

    it seems to me that it would be easier to make the company's website compatible across the board than it would to do the same for the complex system for managing accounts. oh well. i'm a satisfied with it anyway.
  • by Cecil ( 37810 ) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @10:23PM (#4539526) Homepage
    CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) had some issues for a long time and I was quick to blame it as being their fault. However, after many months, someone commented on the CIBC bug in Bugzilla that it was working in a newer version of Mozilla. So, as it turned out, it was actually a problem in Mozilla's SSL support, not in CIBC's site. Go figure.

    And for everyone who is complaining that Mozilla can't change the useragent... Yes it can. You can either set the following pref in your prefs.js:

    user_pref("general.useragent.override", "fake agent string");

    Or install the following toolbar widget thing to change it on the fly (very handy!):

    UABar [mozdev.org]

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.