Online banking is becoming a more regular and popular form of transaction among local Internet users compared to online shopping.
A study conducted by research firm ACNielsen from July to August 2003 reveals that 23 percent of the country's 1 million regular Internet users engage in online banking, while only 10 percent do online shopping. Roughly 40 percent of online banking customers have incomes that average from 40,000 pesos (US$720) to 60,000 pesos per month.
There are approximately 4 million local Internet users, but only around 1 million are "regular Internet users," which means that they spend at least three to five hours surfing the Internet daily.
"The figures suggest that more and more Filipinos are beginning (to) trust, accept and (be more at) ease in doing online banking transactions despite previous security and technology concerns," said Elena van Tooren, management information system director of ACNielsen Philippines and president of the Philippine Computer Society (PCS). She added that the number of online banking transactions has already increased by 17 percent since 2002.
However, factors such as security, lack of awareness and the unavailability of online banking services in some banks continue to hamper local Internet users from maximizing the benefits of online banking, Van Tooren observed.
Limited access to personal computers and the high cost of Internet rates also prevent electronic commerce (e-commerce) from reaching its full potential, the PCS head said.
The study shows that the Philippines is currently ranked 11th among the 12 Asian countries that provide an Internet banking environment, but Van Tooren is confident that the country will eventually improve its position due to its high Internet activity adoption rate.
One noteworthy finding of the study identified 19 percent of the total population of Internet users in the region as belonging to the information and communications technology (ICT) industry.
Sharing Van Tooren's optimism, Philippine Internet Commerce Society president Mary Anne Tolentino sees mobile phones helping boost Internet transactions in the region due to their affordability and popularity.
"The reloading of cellular phone credits and other mobile banking connections have helped heighten the overall quantity of online banking transactions and several other Internet businesses in the Philippines," she said.