UK Internet bank cahoot expects the number of adults banking online to increase tenfold during the next decade after commissioning research which indicates that the digital divide between genders, age and social groups on the Net is crumbling.
A report commissioned by cahoot from the Future Foundation shows that the face of online banking has changed significantly in the past five years, with a sharp increase in the number of women banking online and the rise of the 'Silver Surfer'.
The report shows that today’s average Internet user is likely to be a middle-aged, suburban mother or father, with the dominant demographic being the 35-44 age group.
Internet use has, however, become prevalent among people approaching retirement, with 60% of adults in the 55-64 age group being regular surfers. Whilst many people still like to visit a branch to conduct their day-to-day banking, says cahoot, half of net users in 55-64 age group prefer to bank online. This figure rises to over two thirds (68%) of Internet users aged 30-55.
Over the past five years women have been among the main converts to Internet banking and the gender split is now almost equal. While women are only slightly less likely than men to engage in most types of online banking activities, a fairly significant difference persists when it comes to managing investments, where 21% of men prefer using the Internet compared with just 12% of women.
John Goddard, managing director of cahoot says, "Five years ago, when cahoot first launched, the Internet and the people who used it were very different. In a relatively short space of time, online banking has become the first choice for many people regardless of gender, age, socio-economic background or location."
Looking ahead to the next five years, cahoot predicts the following trends for the future of the Internet in 2010:
- A fifth of adults will have non-PC access to the Internet, for example through mobile phones or wireless communications devices
- Differences between social groups will persist. These differences will, however, decline after 2010 as new forms of Internet access through new technologies become available
- The age profile of Internet users will continue to level off but the 65+ age group will still lag behind
- One in four (38%) of adults will bank online by 2010. This is a huge increase over a decade when compared to the 1999 figure of four per cent.
John Goddard adds: "The correlation between Internet usage and online banking is strong because the longer a person has used the Internet, the more likely they are to use it to manage their day-to-day banking. The fundamental questions about Internet access will have changed in five years’ time, and by then it will be less a question of ‘do they?’ or 'don’t they?’ bank online but more a question of ‘what do they do with it?’."