22 mln Americans bank online

A study of online banking at the nation’s 10 largest financial institutions found that 22 million consumers logged in to their accounts in March, a nearly 30% increase from 2003. Online banking use expanded more than tenfold from 1996 to 2003, TowerGroup Research said. TowerGroup expects close to 37% of all U.S. households to be registered to bank online by 2007 – a total of 42.5 million households. Bank of America already has 10.9 million active online banking customers, 4.3 million of whom pay bills online.

More than 4.6 million Americans paid at least one bill via a bank online payment service in the first quarter this year, up from 1.9 million two years earlier, the study said. The average customer pays more than 14 bills per quarter with a total value of more than $3,500. Still, the results found that most consumers – 84% – still prefer to pay bills through a utility or merchant’s site rather than through a bank site.