North America Leads World Markets in Internet Banking and Online Billing

Saturday 22 November 2003 14:27 CET | News

Internet banking increased 19 percent worldwide in 2003, with 80 percent of North American banks offering this service, according to the fourth annual online banking responsiveness survey conducted by Unisys Corporation and the Global Future Forum.

This compares with 47 percent of top banks in Europe and 66 percent of top banks in Asia. Of the top 400 banks surveyed globally, 64 percent now offer online banking, including the ability to open an account online. While online billing is still in its infancy, with only 32 percent of banks globally promoting the service actively, 77 percent of banks in North America make this available. Challenges to Integrate Internet Into Other Customer Channels Another independent study conducted for Unisys underscored how financial institutions around the world are still grappling with how to effectively integrate Web-based services into other more traditional ways they interact with customers. More than 50 percent of the U.S. and European financial institutions surveyed cite such channel integration as a key initiative that they are either currently addressing or are planning to address in the short term. For example, the Unisys-Global Future Forum survey shows that while seven of the top 10 banks globally provide a customer contact mechanism on their Web sites, only four responded to an inquiry, clearly demonstrating the need for more integrated service channels. Yet banks are making strides in Web-based services. In fact, 91 percent of the top 400 banks have an easy-to-find Contact Us mechanism, an increase of 34 percent compared with 2002. This reverses two years of decline in providing the mechanism after the initial burst of experiments in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This data suggests that now that banks have had a chance to evaluate the failure of these early Web-based services because of a lack of integration, they are ready to more proactively reach out to the customer online again. The other channel integration research shows that more than 60 percent of the U.S. and European financial institutions surveyed plan to address -- in the short term -- ways to link important data across all customer channels, with the top three priorities being: delivering consolidated product information (including sales quotes and account information); providing a single view of all of a customers accounts and interactions across channels; and providing data about the customers financial and life-event situations (i.e., wealth management). Most financial institutions see that they need real-time access to integrated information across channels to improve customer service. When ranking the importance of speed of information flow, respondents state that the top needs for real-time updates were billing and transaction information (40 percent), fraud prevention (32 percent), product quotes (30 percent) and customer profile and account information (30 percent). Other Findings Both research projects confirm the continued importance of an effective online strategy. Other findings include: -- Banks in the U.S. are significantly more likely than their European counterparts to provide online access to annual reports. This may reflect the increased need for more transparency of financial information as a result of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and related regulations. Still, 35 percent of banks globally do not offer this information online. -- Financial institutions Web sites are not often the focal point for technology integration efforts. Only 9 percent cite this as the fulcrum, while 23 percent cite independent and direct sales agent networks, and 17 percent cite call centers. -- Banks finally seem to understand the importance of a Web presence. Only 20 of the top 400 banks do not have an easily accessible Web site, compared with 32 in 2002 and 64 in 2001.

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Categories: Banking & Fintech | Online & Mobile Banking
Countries: World
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Banking & Fintech