PNC plans to change the underlying technology of its Virtual Wallet online banking account, switching to HTML5 from Adobe Flash.

Virtual Wallet, a combination of three checking and savings accounts, has operated on Flash since its 2008 launch. PNC presents transactions from these accounts, as well as a linked PNC credit card, in a Flash-based calendar that shows each day's activity. A drawback of this approach is it can be very slow for users who initiate a lot of transactions.

Switching to HTML5, the latest version of the HTML markup language, should provide "a more responsive experience when you're in Virtual Wallet," says PNC's Peter Bird in a Dec. 4 post to the Inside the Wallet blog, which is visible only to Virtual Wallet users. "With the new HTML5 architecture, we've been able to speed up many of your daily tasks, like paying a bill from the Calendar."

In comments posted to the Inside the Wallet blog, PNC customers heralded the change.

"This is fantastic," wrote a PNC customer using the screenname "familyman" in a Dec. 5 comment. "Th[e] Flash [version] takes so incredibly long to load and to categorize transactions that using it for monthly budgeting was becoming rather burdensome. In fact, my wife and I last night were just discussing moving to another platform altogether for our budgeting. Since the Virtual Wallet's budgeting features are why I switched to PNC, this is very timely."

Another drawback of Flash is it does not run on Apple's mobile devices. PNC has Virtual Wallet apps that duplicate the Web experience on the iPhone and iPad, and the HTML5 site would allow those devices to access Virtual Wallet accounts from the browser as well.

Some companies, such as the Israeli mobile-pay technology provider ZooZ, advocate using HTML5 over device-specific apps because it eliminates the need to code apps for each mobile platform.

"When we first started prototyping and building Virtual Wallet back in 2007, Flash was really the only viable web platform that could do the complex interactions we needed to do to give you a great online experience," Bird wrote. "Since then, however, its dominance of rich interactive experiences has decreased as other web technologies, particularly HTML5 and JavaScript, have grown and matured. As we continued to add more features to Virtual Wallet, development in Flash became much more challenging."

During a testing phase taking place over the next few weeks, Virtual Wallet users will be able to switch to and from the HTML5 site through a link in a yellow bar that will appear at the top of their screen when they log in. The yellow bar will also include a link for reporting bugs.