Despite banks' and other financial companies' rapid embrace of Internet technologies, electronic commerce remains "conspicuous by its absence" from many of their sites, said the leaders of Diamond Technology Partners' financial services practice.

In a briefing written for the consulting firm's A Digital Bit newsletter series, Jay Kingley and Kevin Grieve observed that banks, in contrast to insurers and securities companies, "don't have to worry about displacing brokers" with on-line delivery systems. That factor plus low transaction costs have led banks to be "the quickest to embrace" e-commerce.

"Even so, when we visited the Web sites of 15 banks, we came up with only two that offered everything on-line," the consultants wrote. They were the Internet-only startups Compubank and Net.Bank.

Eight others "significantly ventured into e-commerce" by allowing on-line account openings and loan applications for the most part. Three were deemed to have "limited e-commerce capabilities," and two had "virtually no e-commerce at all."

Overall, the vast majority of six dozen financial providers studied were offering "at least a limited number of e-commerce capabilities, but that's not likely to satisfy customers whose expectations are being set by what companies in any industry are doing, not just your industry."

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