Convenience king in internet banking growth

For the first time, the number of customers using internet banking has overtaken those visiting their local branch

The number of Australians using internet banking has suprassed those using traditional face-to-face banking for the first time, according to new research from Roy Morgan.

The survey found that as at December 2010, 45 per cent of Australian had used internet banking over the previous four weeks, as opposed to 44 per cent who visited a branch.

It also found that the number of Australians using internet baking has grown to 45 per cent from just one per cent over the past 12 years.

Roy Morgan finance industry director, Suela Qemal, said the convenience of the internet was a key driver behind the increased amount of internet banking customers.

"This shift has significant implications from the reduction in person-to-person communication which erodes the key relationship and loyalty between a customer and their bank at a time when bank competition has never been so prominent.”

Westpac general manager online and customer service centres, Harry Wendt, told Computerworld Australia Westpac continues to see a steady incline in the number of customers using online banking for their day-to-day banking needs, but maintains customers still visit branches but for different reasons.

“Customers are doing about 3.5 times the volume of transactions online than compared to all of our other channels,” Wendt said. “Numbers of customers visiting branches has not changed significantly, but what is changing is what people go to the branch for.

"The local branch remains a key touch point for many customers and is the place where people go for advice on their more complex needs and where they want to have a face-to-face discussion.”

According to Wendt, the branch will maintain its place in local communities, but customers will continue to cease using it for simple transactions.

Wendt also noted the bank had seen significant growth in customers using mobile banking, with one in five logins to online banking now coming from mobile devices and over 600,000 customers using the service.

The Roy Morgan report also found ATMs remained the most used banking platform with 77 per cent of Australians having used an ATM in the previous four weeks, but usage has reached a plateau over the 18 months prior to December 2010 with just a one per cent increase.

Additionally, phone banking has also been exceeded by internet banking and has fallen steadily to some 18 per cent in December 2010, from 2003 when it hit a peak of 28 per cent.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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