One Third Of Americans Regularly Bank Online

In a survey of 2,000 consumers last summer, Gartner extrapolated that 71 million U.S. adults use online banking regularly.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

February 19, 2008

2 Min Read

A third of Americans regularly bank online, making it a mainstream practice, a market research firm said Tuesday.

In a survey of 2,000 consumers in the U.S. and the U.K. last summer, Gartner extrapolated that 71 million U.S. adults use online banking regularly. In the U.K., 14 million adults, or more than a quarter of the adult population, regularly bank online.

"The current usage levels in both countries show that adoption is now taking place within the mainstream of consumers, among people who use new channels and services if, and only if, they see intrinsic value from the new technology," Gartner researcher David Schehr said in statement. "Online banking has clearly made this transition in consumer minds."

Gartner found that younger and higher-income consumers are more likely users of online banking. Both are critical audiences for retail growth in the sector. In addition, online banking is linked to higher use of other channels, including automated teller machines and the telephone.

Online banking customers are also more open to emerging channels for transactions and customer service, Gartner said.

For banks, Gartner recommends presenting a unified face to the customer by improving integration across service channels and online access for different business units. In addition, banks need to make sites customizable by the customers. Users have individual preferences, and customization can be a source of competitive differentiation, the researcher said.

One new frontier in online banking is accessing accounts via a smartphone. AT&T, for example, launched late last year a mobile banking application that allows the carrier's nationwide subscribers to view account balances and pay bills on their cell phones.

AT&T collaborated with Wachovia and SunTrust Banks, as well as mobile banking and payment provider Firethorn Holdings and its partner CheckFree. The latter specializes in services that enable mobile banking on cell phones.

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