The number of households that bank by personal computer could be 17 times greater than it is today by the year 2000, says a report from the New York consulting firm, Jupiter Communications.

There are now 754,000 households using PC banking, and in five years, that number should jump to 13 million, according to the report. The estimates include people who have purchased a home banking service directly from a financial institution, those who have bought personal finance software such as Intuit Inc.'s Quicken and those who are using a credit-card based service on the Internet like the one from First Virtual Holdings Corp. of San Diego.

As the home banking market expands, people who are currently in college or just entering the workforce-an age group that is far more computer-literate than any other segment of bank customers-will be seeking more bank services, says Janet Stites, a market analyst for Jupiter. They will naturally adapt to on-line services that provide mortgage rates or car loan applications, and do so far more readily than Baby Boomers or their parents. Today's college students can't remember a time when there weren't PCs or automated teller machines, and as they mature, home banking will evolve into as permanent a fixture of retail banking as branches and ATMs are now.

The growing market for home PCs and the rising percentage of PCs equipped with modems are fueling acceptance of PC banking. In addition, more people are establishing on-line brokerage accounts and becoming comfortable with managing their finances on a computer.

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