As many as 60 million European consumers will bank via the Web in 2003, up from 23 million in 2000, with the numbers moving online set to rise to 84 million over the next four years, according to estimates by Datamonitor.
The increase between 2000 and projected 2003 figures reflects a compound annual growth rate of 37%. The research shows that the UK and Germany are Europe's biggest Web banking markets, although Scandinavia has the most - 0.4 - Internet bankers per head of the population.
But despite increasing numbers of net bankers, Datamonitor says the Web remains behind both branches and call centres as a business generator and in terms of customer usage. The report warns banks to remain focused on getting the basics of Internet banking right, pointing to the demise of Zurich Bank less than a year after launch to highlight the danger of over-ambition in the Internet banking space.
Alex Boorman, Datamonitor analyst and author of the report says setting realistic targets for customer acquisition, expansion plans and costing is vital for the long-term health of an Internet bank.
"The fact that over ambition contributed to the demise of Zurich Bank in much the same way it did First-e and other Internet banks more than 12 months earlier highlights how easy it is for those behind Internet banks to lose sight of realistic projections."
Datamonitor recommends that banks attempt to exploit the popularity of using the Internet for leisure purposes and attract customers who use the Web for entertainment or to research products and services.
Scandinavian bank Nordea has already done this and has partnered with Finnish national lottery operator Veikkaus to allow customers to play online games via the OnNet Internet gaming platform.