Credit card issuers are on the right track in offering digital wallets to their Internet customers, but the products need to include more features consumers want, says a survey released Tuesday by MasterCard International.

Greenfield Online, a Wilton, Conn., survey firm, did online interviews with 450 people who said they had installed and used a digital wallet within the past six months. The survey was done for the Purchase, N.Y., card association.

Thirty-nine percent of the respondents said they were extremely likely to use their digital wallet again in the next three months; 23% said they were very likely; 22% were somewhat likely; 11% were not very likely; and 5% were not at all likely to use their wallets again.

“The findings show significant opportunity for bank members” to offer wallets or expand their current offerings, said Ellen Moskowitz, MasterCard’s vice president of global e-business application development. “This might be a great area for member bank differentiation.”

But she warned that banks “must decide how to position this” and take consumer desires into account. Wallets have “to do some things near perfectly,” she said. “Consumers get impatient when things don’t work online.”

The survey highlighted a major difference between what some issuers offer and what many consumers wanted. Half of the respondents ranked the ability to have more than one card in the wallet either extremely or very important.

The most popular feature on consumers’ wish lists was the ability to check a statement, which 58% of the wallet users said they wanted. Fifty-four percent said they would like to use the wallet to check bank balances, and 34% said they would like to pay bills.

Many of the participants also said they would like to use their wallets for person-to-person payments — 35% said they’d like to transfer funds electronically from one account to another, and 29% said they want to use the wallets to send money to another person.

Eighty-one percent of users said they liked the fact that wallets saved them time in filling out forms; 79% said that was the wallet’s most important feature. Other important functions cited were the ability to input merchant account passwords instantly (64%), storing passwords for other sites (63%), and special shopping offers (42%).

The survey also revealed that some digital wallet features go practically unnoticed. Only 10% said they used a function that allowed them to gain access to online banking services from the wallet, and only 8% said they looked favorably on the pop-up ads that some wallets feature.

Four percent said they had activated a smart card wallet by placing a chip card in a reader, such as those issued by American Express Co., Providian Financial Corp., Bank One Corp.’s First USA, and FleetBoston Financial Corp.


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