Abbey customers count the cost of Christmas online; Visa USA reports record spending

Abbey customers count the cost of Christmas online; Visa USA reports record spending

UK bank Abbey National says traffic on its Web banking site on Christmas and Boxing day was 90% higher than last year's levels as thousands of customers logged on to check their finances.

Abbey's Internet usage figures show that the busiest time on Christmas Day was around mid-day, after the presents have been opened and before lunch is served, but on Boxing Day usage didn't peak until after 10pm. The figures exceed those released by the London Internet Exchange which indicate that Web traffic on 25 December was almost 50% higher than a year ago.

Mary Murphy, Abbey's head of electronic commerce, says: "The number of people we've seen logging on to e-banking on Christmas and Boxing Day show that money matters are never far from people's minds."

Murphy says the bank has also revamped its e-banking service to reduce the number of steps it takes to log on and to make it easier for users to move money in and out of accounts. The site now allows bill payments to be paid in one visit and payments can now be set up to a year in advance and viewed online.

In the US, consumers logged onto the Internet in record numbers between November 28 and December 28, with online purchases on Visa cards increasing 48.9% compared to the 2002 holiday season. The total dollar volume for Visa purchases online exceeded $7.6 billion, the highest four-week amount in the card company's history.

In total, US Internet holiday shoppers spent a record $18.5 billion online excluding travel during the 2003 season, according to the eSpending Report from Goldman, Sachs & Co., Harris Interactive, and Nielsen//NetRatings. This represents an increase of 35% over the $13.7 billion spent in 2002.

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