Online consumers are turning to the Internet in record numbers to check their bank balances, transfer funds and pay bills online, according to a survey of 3000 US adult Internet users released by The Dieringer Research Group (DRG), a Milwaukee-based marketing information company.
"Three out of four online adults now use the Internet to help manage their finances," says Thomas Miller, DRG senior consultant and founder of the annual survey, now in its eighth year. "Personal banking is the most popular financial activity, and bill payment is the fastest growing sector within online banking."
One indicator that online banking is moving toward the mainstream, he says, is that the median income of online bankers has fallen nearly 18% in two years, from $62,500 in 2000 to $51,500 this year, according to survey findings.
The research finds that online banking service users are significantly more likely than other online adults to seek and apply online for credit cards, personal loans and mortgages, underscoring the opportunity for cross-selling bank products to online customers. More than a third of adults who have researched banking products online followed up by opening an account offline.
Banks are still missing a few tricks when it comes to using the Web as a marketing and communications medium, however. Some 18% of US consumers say that their bank has an e-mail address for them, but only half of these consumers say that they actually receive e-mail from their bank.
The type of e-mail online banking customers would most like to receive are alerts that tell them about critical activity on their accounts, such as when they are reaching credit limits. At present, this is the least likely type of information banks send to their online customers, says DRG.