The number of U.S. households banking on-line will increase to 32 million by 2003, up from 6.6 million in 1998, said International Data Corp.

The firm cited as reasons a proliferation of low-cost computers and diminishing concerns about security.

Also playing a role is the growing number of banks offering on-line services, mostly through the Web. This number should increase from 6% of all banks in 1998, to 86% by 2003, IDC estimated.

On-line banking may become "critical" in enabling banks to maintain their role as dominant providers of financial services, said Paul Johnson, senior analyst with IDC's Internet and eCommerce Strategies program.

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