Online Finance Sites Gain Popularity in Europe

The proportion of Europeans visiting business and finance Web sites has doubled in some markets over the last year, and the time spent on these sites has increased by up to 60 percent, according to Jupiter MMXI.

More than 20 million Europeans logged on to business and finance sites from home in May 2001, visiting local brands that offer online banking, financial information, online share trading and insurance services. Seventy percent of the visitors were male.

The proportion of French Internet users visiting business and finance sites from home more than doubled from 18.5 percent to 38 percent between May 2000 and May 2001. French visitors also increased time spent on these sites by more than 50 percent in the same period, from 19.5 to 31 average minutes per unique visitor per month.

In Britain, 36 percent of all Internet users accessing from home visited finance sites in May 2001, an increase of 28 percent from May 2000.

In Germany, the reach of business and finance sites increased by 19 percent from May 2000 to May 2001, with 35.7 percent of people online visiting these sites from home. German Internet users spent more than one hour (61.3 average minutes per unique visitor) on business and finance sites in May 2001, more than any of their European counterparts. Sites that offer online trading and stock market information are more popular among Germans than sites of traditional banks, although traditional banks are catching up, according to Jupiter MMXI.

Suprisingly, Internet users in Spain and Italy, who have been slow to adopt the Internet and many of its applications compared to their European neighbors, are second only to the Germans in the amount of time they spent on finance sites in May 2001. Spaniards and Italians visit not only sites of traditional banks, but also those offering financial information.

The Nordic region, which has been a leader among European nations in all things Internet, has the highest proportion of Internet users visiting business and finance sites. In Sweden, almost 60 percent of the online population visited finance sites from either home or work in May 2001. More than half of Norwegians (56.4 percent) and 45.1 percent of Danes online visited business and finance sites from home in May 2001.

European Visits to Business/Finance Sites
At-home users May 2001
Country Reach % Minutes/User
per Month
Norway 56.4% 40.8
Denmark 45.1% 37.1
France 38.2% 31.0
Spain 37.5% 54.0
UK 36.0% 32.0
Germany 35.7% 61.3
Italy 31.9% 58.3
Switzerland 27.9% 42.4
Source: Jupiter MMXI

Although the Swiss have one of the smallest audiences for finance sites in Europe (nearly one-third visited finance sites from home in May 2001) the Swiss spent an average of 27.9 minutes per unique visitor in May — more than Internet users in Norway and Denmark, which have a much higher reach.

One reason for the increased use of financial sites, especially those that allow users to bank or trade, may be the increased comfort Internet users have with the security of their transactions. But the third annual IMPACT 2001 interactive consumer survey from Datamonitor found that security is only a concern for consumers once they are already using online financial services and it does not appear to deter consumers from making the decision to start using online financial services in the first place.

Rather than security, lack of knowledge and cost of using the Internet are overriding factors in keeping the online population from using electronic financial services. However security is not the biggest impediment to the uptake of online financial services. Datamonitor analysis of security concerns and use of financial services show that those who have made the decision bank online turn out to be more concerned about security than those who do not.

“When you ask people using the Internet what their major concerns are, security always tops the list,” said Derrick Brown, Datamonitor e-financial services analyst. “Datamonitor’s causal analysis reveals, however, that security concerns do not seem to stop consumers from making the decision to use online financial services in the first instance. In fact, people who use online financial services are more concerned with security than the general Internet using population. For online financial services providers, security is therefore key for customer retention, however it may not be the key or sole issue to address when enticing consumers online in the first place. In other words, security may help you keep customers, rather that acquire new ones.”

Consumers in the United States and Britain are more concerned with security by comparison to the other countries surveyed. This could be as a result of a high degree of media exposure to online security breaches in these countries.

Other findings from the Datamonitor research include:

  • In three of the six European countries surveyed, Internet users who do not use online financial services are more likely to be concerned about the expense of the Internet. For Britain and the United States, expense does not appear to inhibit the online population from using online financial services.
  • Another major hurdle for online consumers’ in starting to use online financial services is their personal lack of knowledge of the Internet. Whereas security is a retention issue that can be controlled by the provider to a large degree (e.g., with marketing and IT solutions), dealing with lack of knowledge is a much more difficult acquisition issue as it requires a time, and possibly financial, investment on the part of the consumer.
  • In most countries, people with Internet access at work are significantly more likely to use online financial services than those with only access at home. In other words, consumers are doing their online banking and investing in the workplace.

Datamonitor’s IMPACT 2001 survey is based on more than 7,500 interviews covering the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Italy.

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