Despite a push for banks to get online, a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed only 3 per cent of adults used the internet for banking purposes in 1999.
Although this is more than double the 1998 proportion, it is a far cry from the 40 per cent of adults that paid bills or transferred funds via the telephone.
According to the ABS, in 1999, 41 per cent or 5.6 million Australian adults accessed the internet, compared with 32 per cent or 4.2 million in 1998. The most popular location to log onto the internet was at home for adults aged 55 years or over, while most people in the 25-54 age group preferred to connect at work.
The cost of internet access continued to be a hindrance for many users and households. Adults earning under $40,000 were more likely to access the internet from locations other than work if they used the internet at all. The ABS said the incidence of internet access both at home and work increased with income levels.
Additionally, more than half the percentage of households with income over $100,000 have internet access at home, whereas only 17 per cent of households earning between $25,000 and $49,999 are connected, the report said.
The report also revealed that although 48 per cent of households own a computer, only 22 per cent use the computer for internet access at home.
Despite widely varying figures across demographic regions (35 per cent of households in ACT have internet access, compared with 18 per cent in Tasmania) and income brackets, the report showed that IT adoption and internet usage continued to grow in Australia.
The rate of growth of internet access was much greater than the growth rate of computer access between 1998 and 1999, the report added.