Study Finds Surge In Use Of Online Banking

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Almost 53 million U.S. adults now bank online, an increase of 47% during the past two years, according to a new survey by Pew Internet & American Life. In fact, online banking is the fastest-growing Internet activity, Pew said. Pew said its survey found that the use of online banking "grew like gangbusters" from 2000 to 2003, and then again from 2002-2004.

According to Pew, the biggest reason for the increase in usage is a similar increase in home broadband connections to the Internet. Pew found that consumers with broadband access are about twice as likely to have tried online banking as those still using dial-up connections.

As an example, Bank of America recently reported that nearly 50% of its checking account customers do business online, and that overall it has 12.4-million users of its online services. The bank credited online bill pay, which it offers free, for being a primary draw.

Pew said the only potential glitch in the growth of online banking is fear over fraud or "phishing" attacks, although those fears are not significant.

"Studies show online customers make fewer service calls, and people who do online banking are less likely to switch, so banks are concerned that phishing could cut down on that, and they are trying to do consumer education around that," Pew said.

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