Internet banking, despite its relatively brief existence and despite several disadvantages, offers a broad suite of features and resulting benefits to banking customers as well as banking institutions, features and benefits that promise to expand in the future. Evidence from a broad spectrum of research sources—professional journals, magazines, newspapers, reference material, legislative testimony, results of previous research, and commercial web sites—serve to support this thesis. Brief histories of banking and the Internet are presented, first, as a foundation for discussing the convergence of the two in the mid-1990sinto what became known as Internet banking. From there, Internet banking is shown to have expanded geographically and, within the industry, to banks of all sizes. Expansion has also occurred in terms of available Internet banking features supported by new technologies that opened new opportunities. Benefits from Internet banking are shown to be available to banking customers as well as banking institutions, and risks, such as those posed by security breaches, challenge customers and banks. Most sources seem to predict a bright future for Internet banking. This dissertation adds to the existing body of knowledge by demonstrating how the historical development of Internet banking, ever-expanding features, introduction of new technologies, increasing benefits, and a focus on improving security to mitigate risks point to increased growth in Internet banking in the future. Another contribution made by this dissertation to existing knowledge is the synthesis of features identified in existing sources into comprehensive listing to provide a complete generic view of available services. This listing may be used by customers or others as a basis for evaluating the features offered by various banking institutions and by future researchers as a benchmark for assessing growth in Internet banking.
Banking. “The business of dealing in money and instruments of credit” (Columbia Encyclopaedia, 2004). Bricks and Mortar. “A store (shop, supermarket, department street.) in the real world” (Computer Desktop Encyclopaedia, 2001). Browser Cache. “A temporary storage area in memory or on disk that holds the most recently downloaded Web pages ” (Computer Desktop Encyclopaedia, 2001). Clicks and Mortar. “Refers to businesses that offer online services via the Web as well as the traditional retail outlets (offline) staffed by people” (Computer Desktop Encyclopaedia, 2001). Cyber banking (Cyber Banking). A term used to describe all types of electronic banking including the Internet, personal digital assistant(PDA), land-line telephones, mobile telephones, kiosks, and automated teller machine (ATM) (Cyber banking, 2005). Cyber crook (Cybercriminal). “A person who gains illegal entrance into a computer system or who diverts financial transfers into his or her own account” (Computer Desktop Encyclopaedia, 2001). E-Commerce. “The transfer of funds, goods, services, and information online—either over the Internet or across private networks (e.g. Intranets or extranets)” (Leonard, 1998). Extranet. “Corporate intranet that has been extended beyond the usual company boundaries to include major customers or suppliers”(Hutchinson Dictionary of Computing, Multimedia, and the Internet,1998). Internet. An “international computer network linking together thousands of individual networks at military and government agencies, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, industrial and financial corporations of all sizes, and commercial enterprises (called gateways or service providers) that enable individuals to access the network”(Columbia Encyclopaedia, 2004). Internet Banking. “The use of the Internet as a remote delivery channel for banking services” (Has an, p. 6). Intranet. “An in-house web site that serves the employees of the enterprise. Although intranet pages may link to the Internet, an intranet is not a site accessed by the general public” (Computer Desktop Encyclopaedia, 2001). Keyboard Logging. “Software installed by a cybercriminal on computer without the computer user`s knowledge, through e-mails, e-mail attachments, Trojans, or Internet downloads. The keyboard logger can then capture passwords or other security and personal information and send it back over the Internet to the fraudsters.” (M2 Press wire, 2005) Network. “Two or more computers connected for the purpose of routing, managing, and storing rapidly changing data” (Columbia Encyclopaedia, 2004). Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). “Lightweight, hand-held computer designed for use as a personal organizer with communications capabilities” (Columbia Encyclopaedia, 2004). Point and Click. The “basic method of navigating a web page or multimedia CD-ROM. The user points at an object using a cursor and amuse, and clicks to activate it.” (Hutchinson Dictionary of Computing, Multimedia, and the Internet, 1998) Portal. “A gateway site typically offering a search engine but also variety of other services, such as free e-mail (sometimes free voicemail as well), chat, instant messaging, news services, stock updates, weather reports, real estate listings, yellow pages, people finders, TV and movie listings, shopping, and even tools to create and post (personal) Web page” (World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2001). Screen Keyboard. “A virtual keyboard displayed (at the) sign-on Internet site. Customers use the computer mouse to enter their password into the screen keyboard, preventing keyboard loggers (from) capturing the password since the physical keyboard (is not) being used.” (M2Presswire, 2005) World Wide Web. “Collection of globally distributed text and multimedia documents and files and other network services linked in such a way as to create an immense electronic library from which information can be retrieved quickly by intuitive searches” (Columbia Encyclopaedia, 2004).
“The banking industry of the 21st century is being shaped by an unprecedented combination of pressures. Competition within the industry increasingly is augmented by competition from new participants that are able to target selectively segments of markets traditionally served by banks. Largely gone are regulatory regimes that shielded banks from external competition, or provided unique competitive advantages. Competition is not merely regional or national, but global. Compounding all this, advances in technology are fundamentally changing the nature of how information is created, processed, and delivered–the heart of what banks do.” —Gillespie (1997) Gillespie’s quotation establishes a context for this dissertation through his articulation of the factors that are changing banking in the new century—increased competition from established and new banking organizations without consideration of political or geographic boundaries, reduced regulation, and application of new technologies. It’s the new technologies that are being applied in banking that this dissertation explores with a focus on Internet banking. The dissertation will show that Internet banking, despite its relatively brief existence and despite some disadvantages, offers abroad suite of features and resulting benefits to banking customers as well as banking institutions, features and benefits that promise to expand in the future. A foundation will be established through a review of existing knowledge on the history of Internet banking (Chapter 2). Then, existing knowledge on the features of and technology applied in Internet banking (Chapter 3), benefits and risks of Internet banking(Chapter 4), and the future of Internet banking (Chapter 5) will then be explored. Finally, conclusions about the current state of and future possibilities for Internet banking will be presented. A research methodology was applied in preparing this dissertation. Because the field of Internet banking is relatively young—extending only about ten years into the past—and, because the technology is advancing so rapidly, the bulk of the research was performed using professional journals, magazines, newspapers, legislative testimony, results of previous research, and commercial web sites. Encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference material were used as sources for definitions and other descriptive information. Most references will beta Internet banking in the United States as this form of banking is most popular in that country in terms of sheer numbers (United Press International, 2001) and, thus, has benefited from the most study of its usage. The approach to presenting reviews of existing knowledge represents a logical progression from establishing a historical foundation followed by building a framework of the features, technology, benefits, and risks associated with Internet banking. The capstone of the research segment of this dissertation will be a presentation of selected existing knowledge on the future of Internet banking. Before beginning the exploration of the history of Internet banking, there is a matter of semantics that should be addressed. Online banking, PC banking, computer banking, home banking, electronic banking, or Internet banking—these are all names used to denote remote banking using a personal computer which connects to the bank’s computer using a telecommunications utility (Harper, 2000). Cyber banking(sometimes referred to by its component words, cyber banking), which Isa relatively new term, is also used. Although these various terms are often used interchangeably, they are not always synonymous. For instance, the term PC banking can be used to denote the use of proprietary software to connect directly to the financial institution, whereas Internet banking (the term that will be used in this context)is defined as “use of the Internet as a remote delivery channel for banking services” (Has an, 6). The difference between the two terms is that the latter uses the Internet as a communications medium and the former does not. Cyber banking is a more encompassing term that refers to all types of electronic banking including the Internet, personal digital assistants (PDAs), land-line telephones, mobile telephones, kiosks, and automated teller machines (ATMs) (Cyber banking, 2005). Internet banking is a segment of the much larger technological world of what is known as e-commerce. E-commerce, in simple terms, is “the transfer of funds, goods, services, and information online—either over the Internet or across private networks (e.g., intranets or extranets)”(Leonard, 1998). E-commerce, then, encompasses PC banking and Internet banking as well as home banking, computer banking, electronic banking, and cyber banking.
Internet banking is but the latest episode in the saga of banking, a story that traces its roots to ancient times. This chapter begins with a brief discussion of the birth and evolution of banking, which Columbia Encyclopaedia (2004) defines as “the business of dealing in money and instruments of credit.” Following the introduction to banking, a brief presentation on the history of the Internet, which the same source defines as the “international computer network linking together thousands of individual networks,” will be offered. These separate discussions of the history of banking and the Internet will then converge into a presentation of selected existing knowledge on the relatively recent history of and developments in Internet banking.
The Columbia Encyclopaedia (2004) traces banking back to its simple beginnings as it was practiced in temples in Egypt, Babylonia, and Greece. “Bankers” of the time accepted deposits of gold and silver then made loans of these deposits, charging high interest rates for their lending services. By 600 B.C., private banking was born then later developed by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. The predecessors of modern banks were chartered for specific purposes. For instance, in1171, the Bank of Venice was chartered to make government loans and, in1609, the Bank of Amsterdam was chartered to receive gold and silver deposits. Each society established its own variations on the banking theme to support its economic and social life. Switching now to a discussion of the origin and evolution of the Internet, Leonard (1998) recounts its birth in the 1960s “as a defense department and academic research tool.” She continues her story of the history of the Internet by describing its evolution by the 1990s into a more user-friendly communications method that provided ready access to “entertainment-related content” and information. Later, with the addition of security measures, the Internet became a “transmission media” for e-commerce and for transforming the way governments and the private sector interface with the individuals and communities they serve. The Hutchinson Dictionary of Computing, Multimedia, and the Internet (1998) furnishes more detail about the history of the Internet, stating that it began as an effort by scientists in the United Sates to develop a data-sharing network that could withstand a-bomb attack or other disaster. Later, in the 1980s, the Internet grew as universities implemented mechanisms to share facilities and information. But it was the establishment of the World Wide Web in the1990s that fuelled the current expansion of Internet availability to many, many people in virtually every part of the world.
“You can bank on it. Banking at home could be the first profitable breakthrough on the information superhighway.” So wrote Lackey more than ten years ago, in 1994. His words turned out to be prophetic. This segment consists of a presentation of existing knowledge on the historical developments in Internet banking. In the early days of electronic banking, dial-up services that connected directly to the bank’s computer system using telephone lines were used (Hogarth, 2004). This was before the Internet was used extensively by individuals. One example of this, dating from 1995, was at Barclays Bank. Barclays’ service required that customers have computer and modem, run a proprietary Microsoft Windows application, and access a central number to perform computer banking transactions. Even a decade ago, Barclays was already offering these services: making bill payments, obtaining interim statements, requesting balance inquiries, and transferring funds (Gold, 1995). And, in 1995, First Interstate Bank in the United States began seven-day, 24-hour per day online banking services with the following features (Cambridge Telecom Report, 1995): (1) access to checking, savings, money market, overdraft protection, credit line and credit card accounts and balance information; (2) transfer of funds between accounts; (3) payment of bills through a service without writing a check; (4) downloads of statement information into customers’ personal computers; and (5)receipt of answers to questions through a built-in private e-mail system. Even in the mid-1990s, banking institutions were already exploring new technology as Moral (1994) wrote: “Developments in home banking have pushed the banking industry to develop its communication technology and have triggered an increasing number of alliances with credit card services, banks and communication technology vendors.” Then came the Internet, featuring the World Wide Web, to banking customers everywhere. Garvin (2000, citing American Banker Community Banking, 1999) claims that the Internet, as a communications medium, is growing faster than either television or radio grew in their early years. With the popularization of the Internet, according to Hogarth(2004), in the United States “the use of electronic banking became more widespread among…households between 1995 and 2003 while the proportions of households using traditional (non-electronic) banking methods declined.” Hogarth (2004) contends that computer banking grew by a factor of five in the six-year period from 1995 until 2001 and by a factor of three between 1999 and 2003. She added a caveat that “a large proportion of consumers still conduct at least some banking business ‘in person’.” Hogarth (2004) establishes a correlation among personal computer ownership, Internet access (especially high-speed Internet access), higher income levels, awareness of available Internet banking services, and the use of Internet banking. Newman (2005) also establishes a parallel between high-speed Internet access and growth in the use of Internet banking. Larger banks were the first to offer Internet banking services to customers. The Xinhua News Agency reported in 1999 that large banks were “early adopters” of Internet banking technology but that community banks were beginning to offer it. Grim (1997) writes that Internet banking “is growing at the top and bottom of the financial food chain, “referring to its adoption by larger banks as well as smaller ones. Community banks, typically smaller banks without branches, were slow to accept Internet banking. In 1998, Marshall stated: “Internet banking is still far from a common—and many would say, necessary—product, especially for community banks,” citing as reasons the lack of financial resources and know-how as well as the question as to whether Internet banking would be profitable. Just one year later, Gold (1999)claimed that community banks were a driving force in Internet banking and that technology had offered an “electronic equalizer” for smaller banks to more effectively compete with larger ones. Davidson (2000)states that Internet banking may play a “pivotal” role in helping community banks to compete with larger banks, particularly in deriving what he suggests is more than half of their revenues from nontraditional bank services. The Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve in Chicago Michael Moscow confirmed comments by Gold and Davidson in a 2001 speech (EFT Report, 2001): “While smaller banks traditionally have been at a disadvantage by comparison to their larger competitors, the Internet has served to level the playing field to some degree.” “By forging cooperative alliances with technology, insurance, brokerage and other firms, many small banks are keeping pace with larger organization(s). Larger banks can utilize their brand identity and larger budgets for technology and marketing, but smaller banks often better understand the needs of their customers and respond quickly with personalized service.” The downside effects of a lack of financial resources and know-how in community banks may be mitigated by third-party Internet vendors that furnish their systems and expertise to multiple banking institutions. Teresina (2001) confirms Gold’s statement about the role of third-party vendors in assisting smaller banks in competing with larger ones using Internet banking. In 1999, Gold wrote that Internet banking had gone “mainstream.” Interestingly, the reasons why large banking institutions and smaller community banks enter the Internet banking arena may be quite different. Europe media (2002) reports: “The electronic banking sector is not particularly attractive to large, strong banks that have been active in the market for several years. Internet banking constitutes an opportunity for smaller banks aggressively prospecting for clients to spread their strengths. For traditional banks, the electronic channel is a defensive, not an offensive weapon.” Up to this point, the historical development of Internet banking has focused on banks that offer Internet banking in addition to services offered in their physical banking locations. But a new age in banking is dawning—the virtual bank. This phase of continuing banking evolutionist dramatically different from traditional banking. Contrasted to traditional banks that only offer services from physical banking locations (known as bricks and mortar banks) and banks that offer services from physical banking locations and via the Internet (known as clicks and mortar banks), virtual banks offer no services from physical banking locations; instead, their services are only available to Internet customers (italicized terms quoted from Computer, 2001). Intelligent Finance (2005) is one example of a virtual bank offering savings and investment accounts, mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and insurance. Other Internet-only virtual banks have such intriguing names as Egg and Cahoots (Pritchard,2002). ING Direct is an example of a virtual bank thriving in today’s Internet banking market. ING DIRECTV’s web site touts the following benefits of their banking institution (ING Direct, 2005): • great interest rates; • no fees; • no minimums; • 24-hour access to accounts; • fast account opening (less than five minutes); and • mortgages and certificates of deposits. ING Direct splits the cost savings it realizes from Internet banking with its customers by offering higher interest rates. ING Direct has spent millions of dollars on marketing in an effort to convince prospective customers to use the Internet as their banking gateway(Australian Banking & Finance, June 16, 2003). Another relatively new development is the introduction of Internet banking services for personal digital assistants, or PDAs. M2 Press wire reported in 2001 that Nationwide, which was the first institution to offer Internet banking in the United Kingdom in 1997, was enhancing its PDA services to include account transfer and bill payment features. Now Internet banking customers can have bank account access while “on the go”; they are no longer required to access their accounts from a fixed computer location with a hardwired telecommunications connection. Feign (2004) provides some interesting statistics about the use of Internet banking in the United States today: • Employees at work use Internet banking extensively; it is the fifth most popular type of Internet site visited for personal business(Feign, 2004, citing the Harris Interactive Web at Work Study, 2004). • The top three uses of Internet banking (with the percentage of users who avail themselves of the services) are account monitoring (95percent), funds transfer between accounts (64 present), and bill payment (55 present) (Feign, 2004, citing the Michigan Survey Research Centre’s Surveys of Consumers, 2003). • Convenience was given as a very important reason for using Internet banking by 79 present of users with 71 present of users citing time savings as very important. Another very important factor was24-hour availability of Internet banking services (Feign, 2004, citing the Federal Reserve Bulletin, U.S. Consumers and Electronic Banking1995-2003, 2004). A spokesperson for the Pew Internet and American Life Project states that “of all the major Internet activities tracked by Pew since March2000, online banking has grown the fastest” (Newman, 2005). The New Hampshire Business Review (2000) cites several reasons for the increasing popularity of Internet banking: the reduction in concerns about Internet security, greater public confidence in conducting business over the Internet, the convenience offered to Internet banking customers, the low cost to customers of obtaining and using Internet banking, and the declining costs to banks associated with installing Internet banking. In 2000, Robinson reported that, despite marketing efforts by banks in the United States, there has not been the massive move to Internet banking that they would have preferred. To prove her point, she states that, although fifty present of American homes have computers, only five present avail themselves of Internet banking services. And, many people who try Internet banking later abandon it. Stains (2001) writes that despite predictions of “a cashless and checkless society,” in the United States, electronic transactions “still constitute only a small fraction of all payments made,” although she adds that “the rate of growth of electronic payments is estimated to exceed that of paper checks.” Greenfield (2000) seems to confirm the statements made by Robinson and Stains. He states that the reality of Internet banking has not met the expectations and gives Internet banking the following narrative report card: “Leaders in Internet banking offer a wide range of services, full integration of the Internet with other delivery channels, intensive marketing of their Internet service and strong customer service support.” “But a gap looms between the leaders and what smaller banks can offer. Internet banking, often considered a way for community banks to draw even with their big city competition, could actually widen the gap between them.” Others contend that Internet banking is making significant inroads. In 2003, Hielscher furnished the following statistics on the top ten banks in the United States based the number of customers who use the service:(1) Citibank (7,600,000); (2) TD Bank/Canada Trust (4,500,000); (3)Bank of America (4,400,000); (4) Wachovia (4,000,000); (5) Wells Fargo(3,300,000); (6) Bank One (3,200,000); (7) Fleet Boston (2,600,000);(8) Chase (2,200,000); (9) US Bancorp (1,400,000); and (10) Fifth Third(1,000,000). Recently, Lohse (2005) reported that those people who have tried Internet banking in the United States grew by 47 present over the past two years. She attributed much of this growth to increases in the number of men, “tech-savvy” younger adults, and affluent households that pay their bills and manage their finances online. Lohse states: “In the past two years, men are more likely to handle their banking online than women—49 present vs. 39 present—compared with an equal propensity between the sexes two years ago…Those with higher household incomes are more likely to be banking online, with 55 present of Internet users making $75,000 or more trying it, compared with 32percent of Internet users with household incomes under $30,000.”Stavins (2001) confirms Louse’s findings in writing that “younger, more educated consumers with higher incomes” are most likely to make electronic payments. Despite its growing popularity, Internet banking is not equally accessible to all people. The poor, minorities, the elderly and the disabled are underserved. However, banks are making inroads in assisting individuals with special needs (Lee, 2000; AAP General News,2002). Although certain groups are underrepresented among Internet banking users, one group is heavily engaged—younger people, especially members of Generation X, or those individuals between 28 and 39 years of age (Newman, 2005, citing the Pew Internet & American Life Project). The expansion of Internet banking is occurring worldwide: • In the United Kingdom, as mentioned earlier, Barclays Bank was an early entrant with its PC banking application in 1995 (Gold, 1995).But, Little (2004) reports that growth in Internet banking among small businesses has slowed significantly with slow Internet access and security fears cited as two reasons for the slowdown. • In Europe, including the United Kingdom, the number of Internet banking customers nearly tripled in three years to 60 million reportedM2 Press wire in 2003. While most of these users were in the United Kingdom and Germany, the highest per capita number of users was in the Scandinavian countries. For instance, banks in Norway lead the rest of the world in Internet banking penetration as well as in the proportion of banking customers who pay bills or place brokerage orders via the Internet (Brown-Hums, 2000). • “The rapid growth of Internet banking is transforming the way wealthy Asians manage their finances,” reports Richardson (2000). Wii(2002) reports that, in Malaysia, interest in this form of banking is growing and, although some of the more advanced applications (e.g. Paying bills electronically) are still elusive, more basic functions are being implemented successfully. • South America’s growth in Internet banking reflects that continent’s recent rapid growth in Internet usage (Jolson, 2002). He writes: “If…the region’s banks follow the lead of a handful of financial institutions in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile that have implemented among the world’s best practices online, Internet banking rates should soar. Jolson cautions that anyone who expects significant growth should realize that “better marketing may help spread mobile and Internet banking, but it won’t be enough to bring Latin America to an overall level akin to that of North America and Canada.” • O’Connell (2001) writes that banks have “aggressively implemented “Internet banking in Australia. In this country, “Internet banking now provides a fully virtual option for almost all transactions,” according to Australian Banking & Finance (February 28, 2003). The results are paying off. Poulakis (2005) recently reported that, for the first time, the number of Internet banking transactions exceeded the number of paper check transactions. This is quite a change since 1999, when Australian Banking & Finance reported that “consumers may have learned to bank by ATM, phone, and home computer, but an old-fashioned visit to the teller window is still the most popular way to complete transaction.” • Sander (2004) writes about Internet banking in South Africa where this technology is also taking hold and compares implementation therewith implementation in Singapore. Despite the proliferation of Internet banking, it has not been easy for banking institutions to implement. Burgess (2002), in expressing the opportunities and obstacles that technology has presented, writes: “the financial services industry has embraced technology and hurtled forward into the brave new world,” but that “technology has created opportunities and obstacles to financial organisations.” Some of the obstacles Burgess cites are incompatible hardware and software that have been encountered during banking mergers and acquisitions, cumbersome information technology infrastructures that have restricted product offerings and inhibited effective customer relationship management, and high technology costs that have prevented development and implementation of improved systems. Yet, despite the obstacles, Burgess admits that “technology makes working within the financial services sector easier.” Hogarth (2004) provides two of the underlying reasons that that may help to explain why Internet banking is growing in popularity: first, people are becoming more comfortable with using the Internet for their banking business and, second, there has been an increase in positive attitudes in each of the years from 1999 until 2003, adding that people also feel more secure about the safety of using the Internet for banking. Banks are not just waiting for customers to accept Internet banking. Michelson (2002) reports that some banks are pursuing marketing initiative of installing “kiosks” in bank offices to demonstrate the advantages and capabilities of Internet banking by allowing customers to perform Internet banking transactions as if they were using their home computers. In closing this chapter summarizing selected existing knowledge on the historical development of Internet banking, the words of Patrick Thomas, a senior Internet Analyst at Nielson/Net Ratings, seem to capture the essence of the state of this electronic approach to banking today (Business Wire, 2002): “’For many, online banking has become an integral part of the overall banking experience, helping to spur growth and loyalty for those institutions who effectively meet customer needs.’”
Queue busters are what Pritchard (2000) calls Internet banking services, referring to the time savings and convenience customers enjoy by avoiding waiting lines at traditional bricks and mortar banking offices. The benefits of Internet banking will be the topic of Chapter4 but, before beginning that discussion, a summary of selected existing knowledge on the features associated with this form of electronic banking will be presented and the underlying technology of Internet banking will be explored.
“Traditional Internet banking services are listed as opening an account, transferring funds among accounts, making payments, and conducting investment and trading transactions” (Has an, 6). Has an also lists services that are commonly used by banks assembled in what he calls “standard packages”: • making deposits and withdrawals; • paying bills; • managing credit and debit cards; • managing money market accounts; • checking account balances; • transferring funds; • applying for loans and other services; • applying for mortgages and related services; • obtaining stock quotes and trading in investments; • participating in electronic commerce; • managing assets; and • participating in insurance programs. Australian Banking and Finance (May 18, 2004) describes how flexible the features of Internet banking are: “Internet banking offers customers the capability to view balance and transaction history, order new statements, transfers, pay bills or pay anyone.” And, for business customers, “the small business features of Internet banking include payroll payments and payments file upload facilities.” Hielscher (2003)lists Internet banking features as viewing cleared checks as well sat transactions and deposits, transferring funds among accounts, and paying bills. Johnson (1997) lists the features of Internet banking that were available even as early as eight years ago: balance checking, funds transfer, bill payment, and account information download to personal computer finance software. Lohse (2005), in writing about Wells Fargo Bank’s Internet banking features, reports that the bank:“…has seen more customers flock to online banking as the bank has added functions, from basics like checking account balances online to paying bills to getting bills automatically sent or paid online.” Hogarth(2004) describes the following Internet banking features: • funds transfer; • bill payment; • account balance information; • account statement review; • paper check order requests; • stop-payment requests; • investment account monitoring; • credit card statement review; and • credit, investment, and insurance shopping information. The web site, MsMoney.com (2004), lists the following features of Internet banking: • checking account balances; • balancing a check book; • transferring money between accounts; • tracking recent account activity; • authorizing electronic bill payments; • requesting copies of past statements and processed checks; • ordering traveller’s, cashier’s, and regular checks; • issuing stop payment requests; • applying for automobile, mortgage, home equity, student, or personal loans; and • receiving investment product and service information. Pritchard (2000) writes that the “core features” of Internet banking are very similar among banks. He lists these core features as checking bank account balances, transferring funds between accounts, and bill payment. The New Hampshire Business Review (2000) cites the following features of most Internet banking services: anytime account access; funds transfer between accounts, including loans; account history download, including statements; account information download into financial software; and bill payment. Harper (2000) separates the Internet banking features that most banks offer (i.e. checking account balances, transferring funds among accounts, and paying bills electronically) from those that some banks offer (i.e. applying for loans, downloading account information, trading stocks and mutual funds, and viewing paper check and deposit slip images). Expansion in features is having an impact on the definition of Internet banking itself, claims Has an (6). For example, he writes: “The latest definition of Internet banking emphasizes the inclusion of ‘on line trading’.” Some banks, such as Wells Fargo in the United States are on the leading edge in adding Internet banking features. Greenfield (2000)writes: “More recently, the bank (Wells Fargo) has added incremental services that customers need, such as the ability to change their address, request a copy of their statement or order traveller checks and foreign currency for next-day delivery,” and adds that “The bank is continually adding functionality, from online brokerage to mortgages. Online student loans will come later in the year, and bill presentment and limited wireless access sometime down the road.” And, another banking institution, KeyCorp, claims that its customers can do everything on the Internet that they can do in one of its physical locations, “except get cash” (Greenfield, 2000). Australian Banking and Finance (2003) reports that recent new features added to Internet banking include “automated pre-set payments, pay anyone in Australia and pay anyone overseas facilities…and bill presentment capability.” Following the recommendations of Courtier and Kilpatrick (1999,cited in Lu, 2004) concerning regularly surveying or otherwise gauging the needs and desires of customers before introducing new Internet banking strategies, U.S. Bank in the United States solicited consumer feedback to identify the features its customers would like to see incorporated into its Internet banking services. The result was that the bank dramatically redesigned its Internet banking web site to include the following new customer-friendly features (Business Wire,2002): • “a snapshot view” of all of the customer’s accounts (e.g. checking accounts, savings accounts, credit card accounts, loan and credit line accounts, and mortgage accounts) showing the names and types of accounts, each account balance, and the total amount available in each account; • the facility for the customer “to create account nicknames, such as ‘John’s Checking’ or ‘Jane’s College Fund’,” thereby relieving the customer of the need to memorize account numbers; • presentation of transaction details in a screen image resembling customer’s check book register with a provision that allows the customer to sort and find a specific transaction; • a simplified process for transferring funds in which the option to perform funds transfer is always available on the computer screen; and • an improved navigation facility providing “one-click” access to more options at any time during the session with the customer. U.S. Bank also provides other features that facilitate Internet banking for its customers (Business Wire, 2002): opening checking or savings accounts, purchasing certificates of deposit, receiving and paying bulls, and downloading transactions to customers’ financial management software products. Before committing to U.S. Bank’s Internet banking, customers can view its features on a multimedia presentation at the bank’s web site (U.S. Bank, 2005). In Chapter 2, reference was made to Nationwide’s enhancement of Internet banking using personal digital assistants, or PDAs, which are devices that allow customers to perform their banking without being confined to a computer with a wired connection (M2 Press wire, 2001).Nationwide lists the following services available from customers’ PDAs: • access to information about some of Nationwide’s products and services; • authorized access to the individual customer’s balance and transaction information; • account funds transfer; • bill payment; and • access to credit card information including transactions, credit limit, available balance, and next payment due. Technology Associated with Internet Banking Technology in this context refers to technical aspects of Internet banking (e.g. hardware, software, and telecommunications utilities) as well as the processes involved in carrying out Internet banking transactions. Before exploring the technology used in Internet banking, it is important to understand some basics about the technological foundation of the Internet. In describing the Internet as being “composed of people, hardware, and software,” The World Almanac and Book of Facts (2001) provides this layperson’s explanation: “The Internet involves (three) basic elements: server, client, and network. A server is a computer…that makes data available to other programs on the same or other computers—it “serves” them. A client is computer that requests data from a server. A network is an interconnected system in which multiple computers can communicate via copper wire, coaxial cable, fibre-optic cable, satellite transmission, etc. When you use a browser to go to a site on the World Wide Web, you access the site’s files… Here are the steps in opening and accessing a file: • In the browser, specify the address, or URL, of the website. • The browser sends your request to the Internet service provider’s server. • That server sends the request to the server at the specified URL. • The file is sent to the ISP’s server, which sends the file back to the browser, which displays the file.” Pritchard (2000) writes: “Online banking is a pretty sophisticated application for a computer, and banks can be more than a little fussy about the software and computers they will support,” adding that “ it’s best to have an up-to-date version of the web browser: the application that displays Internet pages on a computer.” He attributes the “fussiness” by banks about hardware and software to their concern for security, a topic which will be explored in the next chapter. Hielscher (2003) describes the Internet banking process from customer’s point of view in very simplistic terms: “For most computer users, banking online is simple. They go to their bank’s web site and log in to their accounts with a user name and password.” Berger (1998)provides a summary of the Internet banking process, again simplistically and from the customer’s perspective. She writes that customers connect with their banks, enter personal passwords, then point and click to pay their bills, check their balances, or transfer funds between their accounts. Finally, Spittoon (2001) describes the relatively standard process used in electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP). EBPP, which is feature of many Internet banking systems, serves as an example of the processes used in Internet banking: • The customer receives an invoice either electronically, typically by electronic means or by postal mail. For electronic invoices received at the EBPP web site (usually the customer’s bank), the customer is notified by e-mail. • The customer logs onto the EBPP web site and reviews the invoice then authorizes the EBPP provider to pay the total amount of the invoice or a portion of it. • If the invoice is not electronically delivered to the customer and is, instead, delivered to the customer by postal mail or in persons(he) logs onto the EBPP web site and enters instructions for paying the invoice. Typically, future variable and recurring payments can be scheduled. • When the customer’s authorized payment request is received by the EBPP provider, the provider transfers funds using an overarching automated payments system used by multiple providers. If the payee accepts electronic payments, payment of the invoice is made electronically. On the other hand, if the payee cannot accept this former payment, a paper check or a bank draft is mailed to the payee.
This chapter begins with a summary of existing knowledge about the benefits, or advantages, of Internet banking. Following the discussion of benefits, a presentation on existing knowledge about the disadvantages and, particularly, the risks associated with Internet banking will be offered. The benefits and risks of Internet banking accruing to individuals, to banking institutions, and even to nations will be explored.
Internet banking provides customers with greater control over the savings and lending decisions they make than was available in the past(Business Wire, 2000). “Banking in cyberspace promises speed, convenience, and maybe lower costs,” suggests Association Management(2001). This segment explores existing knowledge on the benefits of Internet banking. The web site MsMoney.com (2004) lists benefits associated with Internet banking, including the following: • convenience; • expedience; • inexpensive cost; • banking services that are available at any time of the day or night; • banking services available on weekdays, weekends, and holidays; and • banking access available anywhere in the world with a computer and Internet access. Greenfield(2000) seems to confirm, in part, the benefits listed by MsMoney.com when he writes that customer surveys and focus group interview results reveal that convenience and time savings are the primary reasons that bank customers use Internet banking. Schechter (2002) suggests that Internet banking “makes it easier for customers to compare banks ‘services and products” and, on a global basis, Internet banking may present an “opportunity for countries with underdeveloped financial systems to leapfrog developmental stages,” adding that “Customers in such countries can access services more easily from banks abroad and through wireless communication systems, which are developing more rapidly than traditional ‘wired, communication networks’.” Berger(1998) sets forth two benefits: first, Internet banking is a “time-saver” and, second, the burden of Internet banking software upgrades falls on the bank, not on the customer. One ecstatic customer of Internet banking exclaimed: “‘On-line banking is the greatest thing since sliced bread…If I want to pay my bills at midnight, I can do it. I can transfer things instantaneously into my savings account. I don’t have to get in the car and physically drive down to the post office with a check. If I have a question, I drop an-mail off and get an answer within five minutes.’” (New Hampshire Business Review, 2000) Another customer stated: “The different functions are amazing…I can surf through all my accounts to find which checks have cleared and which haven’t. I can look at the checks online, and turn them over to see who signed it.’” (Hielscher, 2003) In Chapter 3, Pritchard’s (2000) reference to Internet banking services as queue busters highlighted the benefit to customers of avoiding the waiting lines at traditional banks. But he suggests that the benefits do not accrue to banking customers alone; he states that banks enjoy benefits as well, citing savings on each transaction (versus providing the services in person or over the telephone) even when the investment in the Internet banking infrastructure is considered. He also cites increased customer loyalty and sale of additional services (e.g. Investment accounts) to customers. Schechter (2002) also describes the benefits to customers and the banks themselves in writing about the transformation in banking offered by the Internet as a “new delivery channel for banking services that benefits both customers and banks.” She adds that, for the customer, “access is fast, convenient, and available around the clock, whatever the customer’s location” and banks can provide services more efficiently and at substantially lower costs. For example, she contends that, in the United States, “a typical customer transaction costing about $1 in a traditional ‘brick and mortar’ bank branch or $0.60through a phone call costs only about $0.02 online.” Schechter (2002)adds that Internet banking “can increase competition among banks, and allows banks to penetrate new markets and thus expand their geographical reach.” Low (2000) also stresses the benefits of Internet banking to customers and banks: “The introduction of Internet banking has benefited both banks and consumers alike. Banks now have the ability to cross-sell their financial and non-financial services such as insurance and investment products while creating value and convenience for consumers.” Silverman (1999) cites benefits available to banks from Internet banking as cost savings from processing transactions more efficiently, increased levels of deposits from customers, and improved tracking of customers’ needs and desires. In writing about Internet banking in the United States, Leonard (1998) compares the costs of banking transactions conducted by various means, clearly illustrating the benefits financial institutions can enjoy by employing Internet banking technology: • in-person bank transactions cost $0.76 each; • ATM transactions cost $0.43 each; • transactions by telephone cost $0.24 each; and • Internet transactions cost only about $0.01 each. Robinson (2000) writes that banks can benefit from Internet banking because online transaction processing costs are “dramatically less” and customers perform the bulk of the work; because electronic banking can “solidify and extend a bank’s relationship with its customers”; and because online banking services are essential in successfully competing with services from “other financial institutions, investment concerns, and insurance companies.” Another benefit to banking institutions is that the availability of Internet banking technology is helping them to globalize their operations, according to O’Connell (2001). A further benefit is that Internet banking gives banks an opportunity to overcome complaints about poor customer service offered in their physical banking locations. Banks can offer superior service and reduce costs at the same time (Australian Banking & Finance, June 16, 2003).
Now attention turns from the benefits of Internet banking access touts disadvantages. Berger (1998) cites disadvantages as the relatively high cost and the possibility of power failure during the Internet session resulting in the customer not knowing whether his or her transaction was processed. MsMoney.com (2004) lists the following disadvantages associated with Internet banking: • need for an account with an Internet Service Provider (ISP); • time-consuming initial set up; • changing to another bank is more difficult than with changing banks in a traditional banking arrangement; • required basic computer skills with knowledge of the Internet; • a degree of comfort with using a computer; and • concern for security, especially unauthorized access to accounts. The final disadvantage listed by MsMoney.com—security, specifically risks associated with security in Internet banking—was the focus of most of the research into existing knowledge on the topic of disadvantages. As such, the balance of this chapter will be devoted to presenting a summary of existing knowledge on the topic of Internet banking risks. Just as Internet banking offers benefits to customers and banking institutions alike, this electronic tool also presents risks. Schechter (2002) suggests that Internet banking “is not only susceptible to, but may exacerbate, some of the same risks—particularly governance, legal, operational, and reputational—(that are) inherent in traditional banking.” For instance, Schechter suggests that legal risks a bank might experience include expanding so quickly that it does not become familiar with local laws and regulations thereby exposing their assets to losses through lawsuits. Schechter states that, in response to these risks, “many national regulators have already modified their regulations to achieve their main objectives: ensuring the safety and soundness of the domestic banking system, promoting market discipline, and protecting customer rights and the public trusting the banking system.” A comprehensive and representative assessment of risks facing Internet banking is offered by Vaughn (1999). He categorizes risks into three groupings—overt, common, and strategic risks—that may negatively impactbanks and their customers. Overt risks, according to Vaughn, involve security issues including the following: • theft of information as it is transmitted over the Internet; • unauthorized access to bank databases; • creation of fraudulent transactions by criminals; • web site vandalizing using “electronic graffiti”; • disturbance in the normal functioning of the bank’s web site; • shutdown of the web site with resulting denial of service to customers; and • creation of fraudulent banks or “takeover” of legitimate bank electronic facilities. Vaughn (1999) lists common risks as: • mechanical failure; • software “bugs”; • human error; • banking employee turnover; • computer viruses; • inadequate system capacity to manage the workload; • power failure; • communications disruption; and, • inadequate disaster recovery capability. Vaughn’s (1999) list of strategic risks includes: • unintuitive or frustrating-to-use customer software; • unplanned upgrades due to rapid hardware and software obsolescence; • failure to keep abreast of the latest security risks and countermeasures; • training challenges posed by constant introduction of new technologies; • lack of knowledge of the complex Internet banking environment; and • inadequate law enforcement preparedness. Vaughn (1999) lists a broad spectrum of individuals who can present security risks to Internet banking: the “casual voyeur” or “thrill seeker,” true criminals, and terrorists. He contends that all of the risks associated with Internet banking can be “mitigated through the implementation of proper technology, coupled with diligent and professional operation following safe and sound practices.” For instance, he suggests encryption, firewall, and intrusion detection technologies to mitigate overt risks; adequate management and adherence to professional information systems guidelines for mission critical systems to mitigate common risks; and development of strategies to address strategic risks. Pritchard (2000) provides some direction in carrying out Vaughn’s(1999) suggestion for applying “safe and sound practices.” Pritchard(2000), in describing security risks, stresses the need for individuals banking online to keep passwords secret and to be aware of unusual transactions being posted to their accounts. He suggests that Internet banking users should be very careful when using computers in public places such as at work or in Internet cafes, urging users to “clear the information in their browser cache after each visit to the bank site.” Banking institutions, too, are aggressively improving their Internet banking systems by addressing Vaughn’s (1999) recommendations for security enhancements through “implementation of proper technology. “Recently, according to M2 Press wire (2005), Citibank Consumer Bank became the first banking institution in the United Kingdom to implement screen keyboard feature for customers to use in logging into its online banking service to furnish improved protection from cyber crooks such as those who perform keyboard logging. PR Press wire (1999) reports on a fingerprint biometric security system being jointly developed and implemented by information technology companies and ING Direct. Using this system, Internet banking customers would authenticate themselves using a special computer mouse designed to read their fingerprints.
Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve in Chicago Michael Moscow, speaking in 2001 on the topic of Internet banking (EFT Report,2001) stated: “’The industry is marked by continuing evolution. For the past three years, we have heard promises that the Internet would provide banks with competitive advantage, improved customer service and access, revenue generation and expense reduction. More recently, banks have begun citing customer retention as their primary motive to offer on-line functionality. The extent to which these promises can be kept remains to be seen.” William B. Harrison, president and chief executive officer of Chase Manhattan confirms that Internet banking is still developing, stating: “I am absolutely convinced that we are in the early stages of a technology revolution that will far surpass the industrial revolution” (Garvin, 2000). The Federal Reserve Chairman’s comments indicate that Internet banking has not achieved full maturity. Internet banking is still developing and expanding as Harrison’s comments suggest. This chapter will explore selected existing knowledge sources on the possible future of Internet banking, including a look at customer behavior in making bill payments electronically using the Internet that may provide some insight into problems which may need to be addressed in the future.
A selection from Federal Reserve Chairman Moscow’s 2001 speech provides some indication of the actions banks will have to take in the future to leverage the benefits of Internet banking for themselves and for their customers (EFT Report, 2001): “Although early innovators may have achieved a degree of competitive advantage, as more financial institutions begin offering similar services, that advantage is not sustainable…While technology innovation can offer great benefits, deployment of technology for its own sake is not a winning strategy…To deliver innovative products and services, banks must make trade-offs in their choices about the use of new technologies among key attributes such as cost, convenience, safety and complexity.” Another indication of future actions banks might want to take comes from Mantel (2000) who studied the behavior of customers in making electronic bill payments. He writes: “Although the checkless society has been predicted for decades, checks remain the most frequently used noncash payment method in the U.S., contrary to trends in a number of other countries.” Mantel found that customers who did not use this service did not perceive electronic bill payments as substitutes for paper checks. Further, he found that a greater number of customers would accept electronic bill payment if additional product features such as “error resolution, service level guarantees, customer service, the ability to make partial payments, and more convenient signup were bundled with electronic bill payment services.” Mantel recommends that financial institutions focus their future marketing attention on funding development of these features rather than on overcoming customers’ resistance to change. Spittoon (2001) adds the following problems with electronic bill payment that banking institutions should address in the future: • many organizations cannot deliver their bills electronically; • entering payment information into personal computers is inconvenient for many customers; • bill payment services are often perceived as being too expensive; • many organizations are awaiting more customer interest in electronic bill payment before upgrading their technology and many customers are waiting for more organizations to offer the service; • customer banking habits are slow to change; and • customers have security and privacy concerns regarding Internet banking. Europe media (2002) paints a less than bright picture of the future of Internet banking, specifically for banking institutions such as Indirect that do not have physical banking locations: “The growth potential of virtual-only banks is nearing exhaustion, with the majority of clients considering the electronic channel a supplement to traditional banking rather than an independent stand-alone service. “But some see Internet banking as a threat to traditional “bricks and mortar” banks that do not provide such a service (Computer gram nternational, 1999). Kaur (2000) suggests that future Internet banking development might include making the banking institution’s web page a portal to the entire World Wide Web. Under this scenario, bank customers could check their e-mail messages, read current news, check their horoscopes, and do everything else they would normally do on the Internet without leaving the bank’s web site. Kaur claims that doing this would allow the banking institution to “lock in” its customers. Greenfield (2000)suggests than Internet banking in the future should include commonly need features such as furnishing extensive customer service (i.e. Online assistance or assistance by telephone) and ordering checks in addition to less commonly needed ones such as obtaining an image of past banking statement or an image of a check. Certainly, Internet banking security will be an important factor in the future just as it is today. The screen keyboard feature being introduced by Citibank Consumer Bank (M2 Press wire, 2005) and the fingerprint biometric security system being jointly developed for Indirect (PR Press wire, 1999) are two examples of how banking institutions are responding to real and potential security threats. Some banks have developed complex sets of strategies that provide insight into the future of Internet banking. The strategies of one such bank, Security First Network Bank, include (The Banker, 2000): • offering the same services that a direct retail bank offers; • multi-channel access, meaning access using different technologies; • personalized service; • partnerships and joint ventures with “best of breed” information technology vendors; and • use of customer relationship management technology including data warehousing that provides front-end customer interfaces and back-end, transparent data collection about customers for the purpose of cross-selling products. At the micro, banking institution, level, Garvin (2000, citing US Banker, 1999) suggests that banks must take a strategic view of Internet banking in the future, suggesting that the following actions be taken: • identify the target market; • determine if the bank’s organization and business processes align with a new Internet strategy and whether any reconfiguration is in order; • determine if the current brand should be maintained or if a new, improved brand should be created; • decide how the new services will be differentiated from those of competitors; • determine if the bank’s Internet service mix should remain the same or should a new set of services be offered to customers; and • decide on the appropriate type of pricing and whether it should be different for different customers. On a grander scale—at the national, or macro, level—Schechter(2002) suggests that there are questions that officials must answer in the near future regarding the impact of Internet banking. Exact quotations are used to capture the exact meaning of the important issues she raises. • “If electronic banking does make national boundaries irrelevant by facilitating capital movements, what does this imply for macroeconomic management?” • “How is monetary policy affected when, for example, the use of electronic means makes it easier for banks to avoid reserve requirements, or when business can be conducted in foreign currencies as easily as in domestic currency?” • “When offshore banking and capital flight are potentially only few mouse clicks away, does a government have any leeway for independent monetary or fiscal policy?” • “How will the choice of the exchange rate regime be affected, and how will e-banking influence the targeted level of international reserves of a central bank?” • “Can a government afford to make any mistakes? Will the spread of electronic banking impose harsh market discipline on governments as well as on businesses?”
This dissertation set out to show that Internet banking, despite its relatively brief existence and despite some disadvantages, offers abroad suite of features and resulting benefits to banking customers as well as banking institutions, features and benefits that promise to expand in the future. That purpose has been fulfilled. The history of the development of Internet banking established that this electronic financial management tool is a fairly recent phenomenon—dating from the mid-1990s—brought about by the convergence of traditional banking and modern Internet technology. The presentation of existing knowledge on the historical development of Internet banking indicated expansive growth worldwide with penetration into virtually every continent and throughout the banking industry, in banks both large and small, mirroring growth in access to the Internet itself. There is every reason to believe that the geographic expansion of Internet banking will continue to increase, providing borderless banking access to people everywhere. As Internet banking has expanded geographically, it has also expanded in terms of the features it offers. Today, Internet banking has the capability to support no less than 25 different features. Using the features described in the presentation of selected existing knowledge, the following list was synthesized to provide comprehensive view of Internet banking features available through various banking institutions today: • 24-hour per day/seven day per week access to Internet banking web sites; • wireless account access; • opening an account; • customizing accounts to make them more user-friendly; • viewing account balances; • viewing transaction histories; • viewing check and deposit slip images; • downloading account information to the customers’ personal computers; • balancing check books; • ordering paper checks; • ordering traveller’s and cashier’s checks; • purchasing certificates of deposit; • ordering foreign currency; • requesting stop-payment actions; • making deposits; • making withdrawals; • transferring funds among accounts; • receiving electronic bills; • making payments to others (e.g. paying bills); • obtaining stock quotes; • conducting investment transactions; • participating in electronic commerce; • applying for and managing credit and debit card accounts; • applying for automobile, mortgage, home equity, student, and personal loans; • managing assets; • participating in insurance programs; • obtaining savings, checking, credit, investment, and insurance information; and • notifying banks of changes-of-address. This listing may be used by customers or others as a basis for evaluating the features offered by various banking institutions and by future researchers as a benchmark for assessing growth in Internet banking. A review of selected existing knowledge on the future of Internet banking suggested that available features will continue to expand in the future just as geographic penetration promises to continue. The expansion in features parallels, and is certainly dependent to some degree on advances in Internet banking technology (e.g. mobile banking access supported by new PDA communications technology). The forecast is that Internet banking will continue to grow in terms of breadth (i.e. Geographically) and depth (i.e. features) as new technologies continue to develop. The benefits of Internet banking were shown to accrue to both banking customers and banking institutions, helping to explain the continued growth in its use by customers and in services offered by banks in what is a mutually beneficial relationship. As features have increased, so have benefits to both parties. For instance, additional features have resulted in time savings for Internet banking customers as they can now perform most banking tasks from their personal computers, eliminating physical trips to the bank, and introduction of new features has continued to decrease costs and increase customer loyalty for banking institutions. On the other hand, disadvantages, especially risks to customers and banks continue to plague Internet banking; however, customers’ increasingly positive attitudes about the security provided in electronic banking may indicate that banks are making headway in dealing with security risks. The prediction is that, as the breadth and depth of Internet banking continue to expand, the benefits to customers and banks will continue to grow as well. As cyber crooks and others intent on doing harm find new ways to breach Internet banking security, the prediction is that banks will continue to ramp up their efforts to maintain the integrity of their systems and to protect customers. In summary, all indicators—rapid historical development, expanding features, introduction of new technologies, increased benefits, and focus on improving security to mitigate risks—point toward continuing growth in Internet banking in the future.
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