Online Banks Grow More Competitive

Though the practice isn't in danger of the becoming extinct just yet, going to your local bank branch to conduct business is appearing increasingly quaint today. And unfortunately for branch-based banks, the high-tech experience offered by online banks is becoming more refined.

Online banks are nothing new, but there have been significant changes recently among some of the major players in the market. Barclays Bank, a venerable UK institution, started offering online savings accounts and CDs in the U.S. last year while ING Direct, one of the pioneering online banks, recently became Capital One 360.

Now EverBank has announced a face-lift, including new features on its website and some lower fees for its online checking and savings accounts.

EverBank's rebranding

As a retail bank, EverBank has been serving Florida customers through its branch system since the 1960s. However, with the advent of the Internet age, it began offering some online account options. Recently, the bank revised its website and changed some services with the aim of creating a more user-friendly banking experience.

The new EverBank features include increased functionality for its mobile website, as well as improved navigation on its full site. In addition, EverBank has eliminated the online bill pay fee for its Yield Pledge Checking and Small Business Checking accounts. The monthly maintenance fee for Yield Pledge Money Market and Savings Accounts has also been phased out.

Other changes in online banking

The changes at EverBank come on the heels of other big developments in the world of online banking. Most notably, ING Direct -- a longtime innovator in online banking -- was sold to Capital One in 2012. In February 2013, ING online savings accounts and checking accounts officially became part of Capital One 360. While the website and brand are different, Capital One told that customers shouldn't expect its service or bank rates to change anytime too.

Another big development in online banking is the introduction of Barclays Bank. As a UK retail bank, Barclays has a long and distinguished history. In May 2012, it started offering deposit accounts in the U.S. but decided to forgo the traditional branch system. Instead, it is offering online savings accounts and CDs, both of which have proven to be popular. In November 2012, Barclays announced deposits in its high-yield online savings accounts and certificates of deposit had reached $1 billion in less than six months.

Because of these new entities and better technologies entering the mix, online-only banks are becoming more of a mainstream option. Many consumers are now realizing that they may find better savings account rates online, and that virtual banking offers almost everything branch-based banks do -- minus the lines in the lobby.