The majority on US Internet users (64%) now choose to manage their finances, including bill payments, on the net according to research released by Yahoo! and Web marketing firm OgilvyOne.
The survey of 2400 Web users, which was conducted by Forrester Research and Flamingo International, found that financial consumers are increasingly turning to the net for activities that were previously conducted in-person, via the post and over the phone.
According to the survey nearly half all respondents (48%) believe the Internet gives them greater control over finances, while 39% say that online information enables them to make better financial decisions.
The study shows that the Internet has become the leading outlet for monitoring financial activity, as nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) now check account balances primarily online, and more than half (56%) use the Internet as their primary medium for checking investment portfolios.
Furthermore the number of respondents who pay bills primarily online (43 percent) has become equal to the percentage of that pay bills through the mail. Additionally, half of all respondents (50%) now trade investments primarily online, while only 15% still primarily trade investments in-person.
Richard Kosinski, category development officer for business and finance, Yahoo!, says: "The Internet has caused a profound shift in the way consumers manage their finances, giving them greater control in the financial management process."
The study also found that online research has replaced the need for in-person financial shopping, with bank account and loan research becoming predominantly online activities. Almost two-thirds of respondents now conduct bank account research primarily online, while 73% use the Internet as their primary method for researching investments.
The survey found that younger consumers (under 40) are more likely to monitor and manage finances online and are also more likely to use the Internet to conduct financial research. Almost three quarters (72%) of this group says they prefer to use the Internet to check balances compared to 37% of online consumers over the age of 40.
But while financial research is being conducted online, the study found that major financial purchases, such as applying for a mortgage, remain primarily offline activities. The majority of respondents still prefer to visit a bank to apply for mortgages (53%) and insurance policies (51%).