In 1991, Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the first website and published an article describing his idea for a “world wide web.” Four years later, Royal Bank became the first Canadian bank to offer information online at www.royalbank.com. Technology ushered in different work and lifestyle arrangements, creating a 24/7 world that never sleeps, where people increasingly expected more flexible and convenient access to their money.
The years that followed saw a steady stream of new online capabilities for our clients. We became the first financial institution to offer pre-approved mortgages over the Internet and the first Canadian bank to give clients direct access to digital images of paper-based transactions online. We were also the first Canadian bank to offer true “end-to-end” processing, where a transaction started by customers at their computer at home, such as a bill payment, could be fully completed by online systems without further intervention.
With technology enabling everything from banking transactions, to back-up generators to airline traffic control, the world prepared for the new millennium, better known as Y2K. The practice of representing years electronically with two digits was deemed to be problematic when the clocks rolled over from 19(99) to 20(00). Companies and organizations worldwide checked, fixed and upgraded their computer systems. RBC collaborated with governments, organizations and the industry at large, to test and re-test Y2K roll-over processes. Y2K passed without serious widespread computer failures, despite fears to the contrary.
In what seemed to be a blink of an eye, 2010 was at our doorsteps, and the Internet and its many offspring - including social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedln - were becoming the norm for millions of people. The ability to make our own banking processes for managing money and completing transactions available directly to our clients was one of the biggest developments in this period.