Study: Online Banking Gains Users

The number of online banking customers in the U.S. grew to nearly 40 million during the last quarter of 2005, up 27 percent from the previous year, according to Reston, Virginia-based comScore Networks. And during the same period the use of online payment services at banks grew 36 percent, comScore said in a statement.

"Consumers continue to migrate to online banking, with the nation's largest banks attracting more than 8.5 million new online banking customers in 2005," said Serge Matta, vice president for comScore Financial Services Solutions. "At the same time, it is clear that adoption rates are slowing. In Q4 2005, the total number of online banking customers grew by 3.1 percent over the previous quarter, representing the lowest sequential quarterly growth in three years."

In response, Matta said, banks are trying to differentiate themselves to stimulate new growth. One such effort involves implementing the high-yield savings marketplace so traditional banks can compete with online companies such as ING Direct or HSBC, he said.

Paying the Bills

Bank bill payment, which consists of a payment through a retail bank at which an account is held, continues to grow rapidly and currently accounts for nearly one-quarter of all online bill payments, according to the study. Bank of America leads the industry in bill payment with 5.1 million bill pay active customers, and attracted more than half of the total bank bill pay customers in the fourth quarter of 2005. And 34 percent of Bank of America online banking customers use the institution's bill payment service, second only to Citibank, where 37 percent of online banking customers do so, comScore said.

When asked why they've enrolled in online banking services, 33 percent of new online banking consumers said it's because of the free banking products that are offered as an incentive to join, while 23 percent said that they feel more secure about online banking than they did previously, according to the study.

Matta said Wachovia has achieved the highest Web site satisfaction score for two years running. Wachovia's nearest competitors in this category are Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase/Bank, he said. In addition, comScore said consumers who are satisfied with their banking relationship are also satisfied with their bank's Web site. In fact, 88 percent of the 2124 U.S. consumers surveyed who said they are satisfied with their bank's Web site said they are very satisfied or satisfied with the bank relationship, according to comScore.

This story, "Study: Online Banking Gains Users" was originally published by Computerworld.

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