Online banking with RISC OSBy Chris Williams. Published: 1st Sep 2005, 16:46:11 | Permalink | Printable
We thought this would be of high interestOne of the great strengths of the Internet is online banking: The ability to move funds around, view statements and more gives web surfers a stronger grasp on their finances. This, for a refreshing change, includes RISC OS users too. We investigated which banks work with which RISC OS web browsers and the results were quite uplifting. We also noted that many of the banks' websites used CSS, which degraded well for older web browsers including Oregano 1.
Oregano 1 and 2 both work with Barclays Online Banking and it's possible to pay monthly bills, view transactions and search for someone to pay money to. NetSurf is able to log into the service although it apparently gets into a tangle with navigation buttons once inside.
Despite reassurances from Barclays customers, I personally was unable to even access Barclay's website regardless of web browser, at first. However, I found that if you issue
sysctl -w net.inet.tcp.rfc1644=0 at the command line or in a suitable Obey script file, the RISC OS networking stack should be able to successfully connect to barclays.co.uk. The sysctl command enables a user to configure the internals of RISC OS whilst it's running, incidentally.
Bank of Scotland
Oregano 1, Oregano 2 and Firefox all work with the Bank of Scotland's online service, although Oregano 1 tends to misinterpret the website's HTML and displays things incorrectly. At one point Oregano 1 couldn't access the service, however we're told that now it can. Once logged in, statements and recent transactions can be reviewed, users can enjoy 'paperless banking' option, credit card debt can be paid off and standing orders and direct debits can be managed.
The Co-operative Bank
This is known to work with the Oreganos and Fresco. The login process is apparently a two stage process involving random questions. Once inside, users can view statements going back 2 years, transfer funds, manage standing orders and direct debits, request a new cheque book and order a bank statement. Co-op customer Martin Wynn told us that NetSurf also works provided you keep the link to the online banking section of the website bookmarked, as the browser can't as yet handle the refresh tag that the main webpage uses to redirect users to the service.
Oregano 2 and Firefox are capable of logging into HSBC's Internet Banking website, allowing the user to transfer money between accounts, pay bills, and administrate standing orders and direct debits. Dr Peter Young, an Oregano 2 and Firefox user, noted that Oregano 2 "doesn't draw the windows quite correctly; in particular, the account statement windows come out rather too small, which is a nuisance rather than a real problem."
It is possible to use Fresco, Oregano 1 and 2, and Firefox with Nationwide Online Banking. Originally, the service could be accessed via three different interfaces: One for TV based Internet terminals, one for PDA users and one for desktop PC users. The TV based format apparently worked the best as it was light on graphics and gimmicks but has since been closed. The PDA and desktop PC formats still work, although Oregano 1 must be set to fake its user-agent string to that of Netscape. Nationwide customer Gary Jones gave his thumbs up to the bank, adding that the service was, albeit some years ago, prepared to fix a problem that locked Fresco users out of the website. "Over the many years that I've been using Nationwide's OLB service, I've never found anything that Oregano 1 couldn't cope with on the main PC banking site," said Gary.
And the rest
Whilst Egg's online banking website continually crashed our copy of Oregano 1 and banished from the iconbar, we're assured that the service works with Oregano 2, Fresco and NetSurf. Kevin Wells told us that he uses the bank for checking and printing out statements. Oregano 2 users have also had success with Alliance Leicester, Ing and Halifax. Natwest, on the other hand, is a complete show stopper for RISC OS browsers. Similarly, the Woolwich shrugs off the Oregano family of browsers and also allegedly fails to believe that Firefox is a real web browser.
Interestingly, Alliance Leicester are currently developing a new website, which is to be deployed at the start of 2006.
Feel free to post a comment if you've found a bank and browser combination that we haven't. Many thanks to those who contributed to this article.
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