Banks are doing a poor job of making their Web sites user-friendly, according to a survey by the strategic marketing company Netsmart America.

Of 1,000 people interviewed by Netsmart, 91% said bank Web sites are difficult to navigate and 83% said their frustration led them to resign from a bank Web site. The survey respondents use the Internet at least one hour a week, excluding electronic mail, Netsmart said.

Survey respondents made the following complaints about bank Web sites:

Too many clicks to get to the desired area (78%).

Got lost in the site (56%).

Confused by home page (65%).

Distracted by self-serving content (61%).

Bernadette Tracy, president of Netsmart America, said bank Web sites tend to be more egocentric than customer-centric. Corporate information often is easier to locate and use than the transactional services consumers really want, she said. "Banks need to have simple icon buttons like 'bill pay, click here.' "

With the sharp rise in the numbers of Internet users, "banks are missing out on an unprecedented opportunity," Ms. Tracy said.

Banks have succeeded in making "the customer enthusiastic about the concept of on-line banking and have built up expectations," Ms. Tracy said. But often when consumers go to banks' Web sites "it's a nightmare." -- Jennifer Weitzman


PALO ALTO, Calif. -- The market for electronic statements and electronic bill presentment and payment services will increase to $31.7 billion in 2005 from $2.5 billion in 1998, according to a new study by research firm Killen & Associates.

The electronic statement part of the market, which includes documents not directly related to bills, is emerging as one of the fastest-growing segments and is expected to reach $8.2 billion by 2005, from $500 million in 1998, the firm said.

The Killen study further predicts that the number of statements presented electronically worldwide will increase 65% a year and reach 59 billion in 2005.

The study was commissioned by Xenos Group Inc., a Toronto company that makes software for the presentment of electronic documents. -- Ross Snel


FRAMINGHAM, Mass. -- International Data Corp.'s "Global Market Forecast for Internet Usage and Commerce" predicts the amount of commerce conducted over the World Wide Web will top $1 trillion by 2003.

The number of people who make purchases over the Web will soar from 31 million in 1998 to more than 183 million or 36% of the Web-using universe -- in 2003, according to International Data, a research company. Carol Glasheen, director of primary research and market models at International Data, said larger average transaction sizes and more use of the Web for business procurement will propel the predicted increases.

The company's forecast says Internet commerce is U.S.-oriented. In 1998, 56% of Web users lived outside the United States but accounted for only 26% of Internet commerce spending. By 2003, International Data estimates, 65% of Web users will be international and the United States will account for about half of Internet commerce. -- Carol Power

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