NEW YORK - Nearly half the online banking customers in the Western Hemisphere will be managing their finances using an account aggregation service by 2005, according to the research firm Datamonitor.

By that year, predicts Ravi Chauhan, a financial services technology analyst at Datamonitor, there will be 121 million online banking customers in Western Europe and the United States, almost half of whom will be using account aggregation. And banks, he said in a brief, are positioned to be the key beneficiaries of the account aggregation wave.

Banks that can deploy a robust, secure, and reliable service are in an ideal position to take advantage of the "increased cross- and up-sell opportunities resulting from aggregated consumer data," the firm said in a press release summarizing Mr. Chauhan's brief. Aggregation would also let banks foster a "deeper personalized relationship between bank and consumer."

For consumers, the firm said, aggregation's appeal is that it lets them manage different financial relationships from a single Web page, or through mobile phones and other wireless devices.

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