First Direct

First Direct

digital case study

A pioneering example of online banking


During 1996, the UK’s first telephone banking service wanted to become the first online bank and asked Nucleus and ICL Fujitsu to develop a distinctive, on-brand experience for its First Direct PC Bank service.


Nucleus ensured that First Direct’s distinctive brand identity was migrated effectively to a digital environment, with simple, fast, functional and easy-to-use interfaces that downloaded quickly, even in the era of dial-up. We worked with Fujitsu to build the back-end and integrate the server architecture into the client’s systems, ensuring that the site was also robust and secure.

In order to ensure the best service experience, only a certain number of customers were allowed to use the service until the platform was proved to be scalable. Once this testing was complete the full service was launched to all First Direct account holders.


When the site launched in 1997 there were 20,000 customers on the waiting list. Within two years, more than one million customers used the service and the cost of customer transactions fell from around 30 pence (via the telephone) to just 2 pence.