Review shows up faults in Aust e-banking sites

A review of Internet banking sites in Australia has found design and technical problems on many sites which make them difficult to use. One bank had 100 out-of-date link references, another contained information which appeared to be three months out of date, and some sites could not be easily found.

A review of Internet banking sites in Australia has found design and technical problems on many sites which make them difficult to use.

One bank had 100 out-of-date link references, another contained information which appeared to be three months out of date, and some sites could not be easily found.

The review is part of a KPMG survey on Internet home banking which canvassed 12 of the top banks across the Tasman. It found that Australian banks sites are lagging behind overseas bank sites, with only four providing Internet banking transactions.

"Real Internet banking, where customers can perform everyday banking transactions, is still only offered by a handful of Australian banks," says Daniel Maurice, KPMG Australia's director of e- commerce and Internet. "We found our bank sites are generally much less customer-friendly and feature-rich than overseas bank sites."

Maurice says New Zealand Internet banking services are similar to Australia. In New Zealand only four banks offer some form of Internet banking services — ASB and Bank Direct offer full retail banking, BNZ offers business-to-business banking and Country-wide is conducting an Internet banking trial.

"Some banks see Internet banking as an opportunity to grow their business and potentially lower their distribution costs," he says. "Others see it as a threat, further fragmenting their distribution strategies, requiring costly investments and allowing new players to enter the market."

The survey found that while some banks across the Tasman have spent up to $A10 million developing and maintaining their Internet banking services, others have spent only a few thousand dollars.

Maurice believes the situation will change by the end of the year with the launch of new Internet transaction services by Westpac, St George and ANZ's trial of new services, and National Australia Bank's announcement of a major Internet banking initiative.

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