Fun and finance are gaining in popularity among Internet surfers, according to the quarterly Consumer Internet Confidence Index published by UK bank Barclays.
The Index - which charts people's use of and confidence in the Internet - has risen for the second consecutive quarter, from 100 points in December 2000 to 104.7 points in February 2001 and to 105.1 points in May 2001.
Research for the Index was carried out by NOP Solutions and finds the number of people using the Internet to carry out their banking increased from 23 per cent in December 2000 to 31 per cent today. Use of Internet for games playing has also risen from 29 per cent in December 2000 to 35 per cent today.
The research indicates that once people are comfortable banking online their usage remains stable - 18 per cent of Internet users says they bank oiver the Web at least once a week. This figure has remained relatively constant over the past six months, says Barclays. The most common activities carried out online are checking balances or requesting a statement, with 94 per cent of those who bank online doing so, while 89 per cent make general enquiries.
Simon Newman, Barclays online banking director comments: "It's clear that more and more people are continuing to go online to manage their finances. Also once they've started, people remain loyal to the idea of banking over the Internet and this is a trend we expect will continue."
The trend for people to do more of their finances over the Internet is reflected among Barclays own customers - currently 2.2 million customers are registered to bank online. On average, customers are checking their balance six times a month and over 95 per cent of customers use online banking to check account transactions; over two-thirds of customers make payments to third parties using online banking; on average, customers pay two bills per month online; and nearly 70 per cent of customers use online banking to transfer money between their accounts.