Australian banks lag on internet services

E-commerce specialists are frustrated by what they claim is a foot-dragging attitude to internet services by Australia's banks.

Philip McCrea, who moderates the influential Internet Commerce Association mailing list, says banks are slow to recognise the internet as a business enabler.

"The whole concept of relationship banking over the internet is yet to be understood. The banks here keep looking at it from an accounting perspective as a way of reducing costs rather than enhancing business."

But there is evidence the banks' conservative approach is doing them no harm with customers in the big end of town.

US-based bank Chase Manhattan probably felt it was stealing a march on its domestic competition when it commissioned e-commerce organisation Tradelink ECA to come up with an internet-based electronic data interchange (EDI) service for Australian companies.

However, two years later, Big W is still the only Australian customer for the service.

The domestic banking sector's lethargy about taking up internet opportunities puzzles e-commerce specialists.

"The banks say their customers have not been telling them they want it but I know users who have been asking for it for 10 years," Peter Blanchard, national marketing manager for Tradelink ECA, said.

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