A study by an industry newsletter confirms that a large number of banks post information on the Internet and predicts that the volume of on-line banking information will skyrocket in the next five years.

The banking industry has been racing to set up informational sites, or "home pages," on the Internet's World Wide Web, according to research cited in the August issue of Online Banking Report.

The number of financial institutions to place home pages on the Web jumped more than 18% last month alone, according to the Seattle-based financial services newsletter. Online Banking Report lists 123 financial institutions worldwide - including 79 U.S. banks, thrifts, and credit unions - that have set up Web sites.

The monthly report projects that 425 banks will be on-line by yearend, 2,000 by the end of 1996, and a whopping 7,500 by the end of the decade.

Banks have been driven into an on-line frenzy by fear of losing market share to nonbank heavyweights such as Microsoft Corp. and AT&T Corp., according to the newsletter's editor, James Bruene.

But the moves are proactive as well as defensive. Mr. Bruene said Web sites present an efficient and cost-effective means to reach the millions of consumers on-line.

"For the annual cost of a couple bank tellers, financial institutions can reach the 10% of U.S. households expected to be on-line by yearend," Mr. Bruene said. "As more and more bankers recognize the cost savings and marketing opportunities available on-line, their numbers will swell."

Mr. Bruene, formerly a banker with U.S. Bank, First Interstate Bank, and Security Pacific Bank, based his report on the banks and other financial institutions that have been publishing information on-line already.

So far, most of the action for banks on-line has been reserved to displaying basic bank data on the Internet. Although many banks have talked about on-line transactions, few are actually moving to make them possible.

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