Net Used for Financial Research

While over 15 million adults connected to the Internet in the US claim they have researched mortgage and equity loan rates online, only about one-third applied for a loan from a lender that they found on the Internet, according to a study by Brittain Associates. The study shows that approximately one in five of these shoppers actually obtained a mortgage or equity loan as a result of an online search.

A similar trend was seen among the 7.2 million consumers who searched the Internet for rates on certificates of deposit (CDs) or U.S. treasury bills (T-bills). Only about one-third of this group bought a CD or T-bill from an institution that uses the Internet as a marketing channel, the study said.

“The data indicate that the Internet is a great place to comparison shop for financial services,” said Bruce Brittain, president of Brittain Associates, “but it still has some maturing to do as far as financial services sales are concerned.”

Credit cards provided an interesting counterpoint to the other financial services investigated. Of the nearly 15 million consumers who shopped the Internet for a new credit card, nearly three quarters actually applied for one or more cards that they found online.

“Certain credit card marketers, such as First USA, have embraced the Internet as a marketing tool,” said Brittain, “and it seems to be working.”

In addition to mortgage loans, equity lines, credit cards, CDs, and T-bills, the study asked consumers about their use of online PC banking (including bill payment, investment research, and online trading), personal insurance research, and online buying and ownership of online savings or money market accounts.

The study included 1,200 adults in the U.S. who regularly use the Internet. The interviews were conducted in September of 1998.

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