Europe on the verge of account aggregation boom

Europe on the verge of account aggregation boom

A new report from Datamonitor predicts that 35 million European consumers will be using account aggregation services by 2005, but cautions that the form and value of uptake will differ from that experienced in the US.

In Europe the ball started rolling in 2001 with aggregation services now provided by Citibank, FTyourmoney.com and eBankinter. Other services are due to be launched in coming months from financial portals such as Moneysupermarket.com.

The report, "Account aggregation: the right way forward?" points out that while the United States is currently leading the way with around two million consumers using account aggregation services, the form and volume of demand for these services in Europe could differ from that in the US.

Datamonitor argues that the US financial services' market is far more fragmented than the European markets, consumers have relationships with a larger number of providers and hence are more likely to see the merits of an account aggregation service. In the US the top five banks hold a 14 per cent share of total retail deposits compared to a 98 per cent share in Sweden and an 80 per cent share in Germany.

Alex Boorman Datamonitor's e-financial services analyst, warns: "All involved with account aggregation would do well to realise that the measured success of account aggregation in the US is not necessarily a passport to success in Europe."

Instead, the demand for account aggregation will be determined by the extent to which consumers wish to aggregate online current, savings and investment accounts and online credit cards and bills as well accounts such as e-mail and reward/loyalty programs, says Datamonitor.

The report shows consumers will be most eager to aggregate those accounts that they use most frequently - current accounts and credit cards - and least eager to aggregate, and to be reminded of, those accounts where they are continually in debt such as loans and mortgages.

"It is likely that consumers will opt to aggregate less important accounts such as e-mail and reward programmes before moving on to aggregating accounts such as bank accounts and credit cards," says Boorman.

The study confirms the theory that additional cross-sell and up-sell opportunities brought about by an account aggregation service are some of the key advantages of the service for providers. Results show that 11 per cent of European consumers have wanted to change financial services supplier but have not done so because the process was too difficult or because there was no better choice available.

In a warning to banks, Datamonitor predicts strong consumer demand for services which make users aware of the full range of alternative (and better suited) accounts and which allows them to easily and quickly change account provider. The foreast is a boost for moneysupermarket.com, the UK financial portal which has developed software for providing comparative aggregation services.

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