Polling firm Mori has found that though online access and the use of online banking is steadily growing, the UK still has not shed its concerns about using the internet.

The number of people in London and the South East who have internet access rose from 34 to 45 percent in the months March to December 2000, revealed the Mori survey conducted on behalf of the Nationwide bank.

Yet the digital divide continues. The North is still behind the South's seven percent growth in internet adoption, with only an increase of five percent in the nine months to December 2000. Wales only saw a measly three percent rise.

Rising internet confidence is showing in the financial areas, such as banks and insurance companies. Mori research showed one in ten adults, approximately 6.3bn people, had used the internet in the past ten months to get financial services information.

Lloyds TSB saw a growth over the year 2000 from 160,000 to 1,000,000 in their online banking facilities.

“The growth has been across the board,” said Kirsty Clay, Media relations Manager for Lloyds TSB, “with all ages now using the [online] services.”

But concerns about the internet are still rife. Despite definite growth of internet access in the UK, many British consumers had concerns about fraud, online addiction and pornography on the web. These fears may be due to the fact that still only 14 percent of the UK adult population have access to the internet.

“Security fears are still significant,” said Alan Stevens, editor for Which?Online. “But they have reduced to some extent.”

The report revealed that 22 percent of users were worried about the protection of personal financial information, with one in three actually believing the internet was a threat to national security.