Latest Bank Web site Enhancements More Than Screen Deep: Gomez Banker Scorecard

Beyond ordinary cosmetic changes, major banks are rolling out enhanced electronic document delivery and robust alerting while aggressively promoting bill payment services, G�mez�s Q3 Internet Banker Scorecard reveals

Waltham, MA, October 2, 2002 � U.S. banks of every size are accelerating their Web-based delivery to help cap costs and better meet customer demands for more timely, convenient and useful services, according to G�mez, Inc., the Internet Quality Measurement firm.

Derived from an analysis of G�mez�s recently published Q3 Internet Banker Scorecard, these findings come as financial institutions nationwide stretch IT expenditures to maximize their returns on investment. First published in the summer of 1998, the G�mez Internet Banker Scorecard is the leading benchmark used to define quality in the Internet delivery of banking services.

One major trend detected by G�mez analysts during the Scorecard research process: the reevaluation of the way banks promote and price online banking and bill payment. For example, both Bank of America and National City cut online bill payment fees since G�mez�s Q1 2002 Scorecard.

�Promotion of bill payment especially has become more aggressive, with an increase in the number of firms offering incentives and strong encouragement to start paying bills online,� noted Moriah Campbell-Holt, the G�mez analyst who oversaw the Q3 Scorecard research. �But while marketing and pricing changes illustrate the lengths to which banks are going to migrate existing customers to online services, they are merely surface level observations in building a complete understanding of the state of online banking.�

Among the more substantial findings revealed by the Q3 Scorecard:

  • Document delivery accelerates. For some time G�mez has advised banks to embrace electronic document delivery to meet heightened customer demand and potentially reduce costs. Scorecard research shows that banks are heeding G�mez�s call, with an increasing number of firms offering both electronic statements and check images. G�mez research suggests that electronic document delivery remains a significant initiative for Scorecard banks. Approximately 38% of 30 Scorecard banks that do not offer check imaging online said they plan to do so within six months.
  • Site revamps abound. Among Scorecard banks, a significant number have completed site redesigns, including migrations to new online banking and/or bill payment vendors. For example, Huntington and First Internet Bank of Indiana migrated to new online banking vendors (and a bill payment vendor in the case of First IB). Meanwhile, Bank One rolled out check imaging; Charter One unveiled check imaging and alerts; and both Fleet and Wells Fargo now allow online bankers to access account aggregation within online banking.
  • Citibank wins for the fifth consecutive ranking. The big money center bank allows customers to apply and manage a broad range of products online, including credit cards and brokerage, within one account management area. The tight integration of products and services extends to pre-filled applications, along with transfer functionality across deposit, credit and investment accounts. Citibank also provides extensive educational resources, secure two-way messaging within the account management interface, and moving beyond the Web site itself, robust e-mail alerting functionality.

Evidence collected during the Q3 Scorecard research process suggests that significant site revamps will continue apace for the foreseeable future. For example, Citibank is expected to soon debut a new site design (launched briefly this summer). Commerce Bank customer service representatives repeatedly told G�mez analysts that a redesign is imminent.

�A close look at recent site enhancements reveals that banks are focusing their efforts on ways to better serve existing customers,� noted Campbell-Holt. �Electronic statements and images of cleared checks over an extended period of time help cement loyalty and increase usage of the lower cost Internet channel.�

To qualify for this Scorecard banks must first meet minimum criteria consisting of firm strength, firm size and Web functionality. For firm strength, banks must have an independent FDIC charter and a rating of 3.5 or higher by Bauer Financial. Forirm size, brick-and-mortar banks must have a minimum of $3.5 billion FDIC-insured deposits in accounts under $100,000 and Internet-only banks must have at least $100 million. Web functionality must include the ability to view balances and pay bills with only one login, transfer funds, view transactions online, submit a complete checking account application and enroll in Web banking.

About G�mez

G�mez provides financial services firms and other leading companies committed to the Internet with competitive intelligence, benchmarking and expertise that enable effective business prioritization and alignment. Only G�mez integrates actionable research and applied analytics with performance measurement services to provide a comprehensive view of the entire customer experience. G�mez Performance Network (GPN) is a leading provider of Web page and transaction performance monitoring solutions to Fortune 1000 companies. GPN enables companies to measure the performance of their global Web sites in real-time, enabling them to continuously monitor site availability and responsiveness, worldwide. G�mezPro provides actionable research and competitive benchmarking and industry insight to help companies optimize online customer experience relative to consumer expectations, competitive offerings and alternative distribution channels.

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For more information contact Alan Alper at (781) 768-2147 or aalper@gomez.com.