Personal finance: Add some PEPs to future plans

Internet Investor

First Direct, Britain's first and biggest "direct" banking business plans to offer PC Banking free of charge to its customers. This is not an internet-based service but an intranet, on the bank's own secure private network. It has been on free trial to 5,000 customers since June last year. First Direct says it may offer the service over the internet in the future, depending on customer demand. I had planned to review the service in some detail - there is apparently a demonstration of its service on the bank's website.

The reason why I haven't looked at the website is because it will not let me. Well, that's not quite true. It will not let me without sending a "cookie". Normally, I avoid techno-jargon but this is one piece of it of which anybody using the web needs to be aware.

The best analogy for a cookie is Caller ID on telephones. Caller ID lets the person you are calling know your telephone number. Cookies work in much the same way. A website knows who has logged on by looking at your cookie. Anything you tell a website that uses cookies, it will remember the next time you visit. Anything you do at a website that uses cookies it can also remember, tracking a behaviour pattern - allowing the business behind the site to tailor its products to you and target you with special mailshots.

Cookies, so the argument goes, smooth the path of consumerism, making sure you only get business offers that interest you. They have also sparked a serious debate about privacy issues.

Anyway, FirstDirect will not let you access its website without sending a cookie. Which raises two questions. First, is it polite for a website to do this? No, it is not. (Imagine being escorted out of your local supermarket by a bouncer because you refused to tell them your address.) Second, is it safe to accept the cookie? That depends on how much you value your privacy.

The bottom line is I didn't feel like accepting First Direct's cookie. So I did not get to view the website. Many commercial websites now have cookies. However, most tend not to refuse you access if you refuse the cookies.

Another piece of web jargon you may come across is "search engine". Search engines are the internet's telephone directories, basically automated programmes which seek out and note the addresses of other websites which match specified criteria.

This month a new engine, FinanceWise, made its debut on the web. Set up by Risk Publications and IBM's Securities and Capital Markets Division, it is a free web search engine for banking and finance professionals. But it is also going to be a handy tool for individual investors.

By indexing only sites and pages relevant to the world of banking and finance, FinanceWise bypasses the millions of megabytes of irrelevant data returned with mainstream search engines. In fact, it is the only engine to offer three types of search option. You may search by keyword; by specific classes of products, suppliers, information or companies; or by sector listings.

FinanceWise is the first search engine to focus specifically on financial websites. However, directories (which tend not to be automated) of financial websites have been available for some time, including the UK Personal Finance Directory on Moneyworld and the Financial Information Net Directory (FIND).

First Direct: www.firstdirect.co.uk

FinanceWise:

www.financewise.co.uk

UK Personal Finance Directory: www.moneyworld.co.uk

FIND: www.find.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    English Teacher

    £22000 - £36000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary English Teacher...

    Content Manager - Central London

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

    General Cover Teacher - Grimsby

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Qualified Teachers needed for Supply in t...

    English Teacher Urgently Required - Secure Unit - Nottingham

    £100 - £161 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Are you a fully qualified ...

    Day In a Page

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on