WASHINGTON Small banks have fallen far behind their larger competitors in offering Web sites that let customers shift money among accounts and pay bills, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency reported Friday.
The number of national banks offering online transactional services increased by 52% during the 10 months through July, the report said. Nearly one-third now offer these electronic services.
But only 17% of national banks with assets of less than $100 million offered transactional services via their Web pages, compared with 96% of those with more than $10 billion of assets.
Slightly more than one-third of national banks still lack a Web site.
Jeri Gilland, deputy comptroller in the agencys Midwest district, said that smaller banks are being naturally cautious and many will gradually follow in the steps of bigger institutions.
The use of the Internet is growing at smaller banks, and it will continue to do that, Ms. Gilland said. But these sites dont come without cost or risk, and small banks need to become more comfortable with them first and make sure they fit into the institutions budget and strategies.
Customers are moving tentatively, too, the report found. Fewer than 10% of national banks customers are regularly doing transactions online. The report said, however, that the number of people using transactional services has been growing and will continue to do so.
The Comptrollers Office said that by yearend it plans to complete onsite examinations of all national banks with transactional Web sites, as well as their independent service providers under its jurisdiction.