Online banking booming

Just under half of the UK's online population now bank online, but there will always be a place for the high-street branch, according to latest research

Consumers are more and more keen on dealing with their finances via the Internet than ever — but there are some services they still prefer to carry out in person.

Research from analysts NOP World found that almost half the UK's online population used the Internet to conduct financial services last year, up from 31 percent the previous year.

The survey also found just over 10 million consumers now run their bank account online, up by 28 percent since 2003.

Howard Barber, associate director at NOP World Financial, said the growth in online banking can be partially attributed to once-novice consumers now getting comfy with the concept of managing their money virtually.

"Once they've been online two or three years, consumers tend to start adding to the portfolio of what they do online," he said. "Once they start, they don't tend to fall away — the churn rates are very low."

Factors of convenience, control and the downward pressure of prices on Internet products have also contributed.

Consumers also felt more favourable towards their online money experience than in the past, being more impressed with both the ease of finding information and the usability of Web banks and building societies than in the previous year.

However, according to Barber, certain services, particularly those with longer-term, higher-risk implications — such as mortgages, pensions and more serious investments — are more likely to be done in person.

"In my personal opinion, I can't see that changing, although naturally it will grow over time [as Internet usage increases]... The multi-channel way of banking is a reality," Barber said.