Banks Continue Torrid Pace Of Web Site Enhancements, Latest G�mez Scorecard Reveals

Online deposit statement archive, among other enhancements, propels Wells Fargo to victory in the Q2 Internet Banker Scorecard, eclipsing five-time consecutive winner Citibank

Waltham, MA, April 16, 2003 — A slow economy notwithstanding, the country’s largest banks are elevating the usability and utility of their online offerings to more effectively cross sell products and services, generate greater cost savings and more efficiently monetize their fast growing Internet customer base, according to the Q2 2003 Internet Banker Scorecard released today by G�mez, Inc., the leading provider of Internet Channel Effectiveness solutions.

In fact, following the widespread introduction by the largest retail banks of online check images and statements, the industry is evaluating new initiatives. A leading example of what’s next is inter-FI transfers: by this time next year most Scorecard banks expect to offer the ability to use their online banking offerings to seamlessly transfer funds to and from accounts customers hold with other banks and brokerages.

Significantly, the Q2 2003 Internet Banker Scorecard saw a new overall winner for the first time in three years. Always competitive in the Scorecard’s five-year history, Wells Fargo finally eclipsed five-time consecutive winner Citibank, propelled in part by an online deposit statement archive, among other enhancements.

“Wells Fargo’s Web offering supports a wide array of products with useful educational content, well-designed applications, effective account look-up facilities and online account management services that are industry leading,” noted Chris Musto, a G�mez vice president of research. “The bank pays particularly strong attention to its online banking customers by conveniently pre-filling customer data into new account applications, delivering extensive help and online banking demos, and posting on its Web site clear security and reliability guarantees that keep customers loyal and banking regularly online.”

Among other Scorecard highlights:

  • Citibank continues its advance, though supplanted by Wells Fargo. Citibank made several tweaks to its account management area during the review period (which ended March 14, 2003), enhancing an already comprehensive offering through which customers can open up and manage a wide range of bank and investment products. New useful services include a listing of pending transactions on the customer’s secure homepage. Other enhancements, however, might leave customers non-plussed (such as the ability to change the colors of the lines dividing the sections of the homepage) or confuse them (such as additional, overlapping navigational elements customers can use to access account information).
  • Wachovia earns distinction of fastest mover among banks since the previous Scorecard. The bank, which is nearing completion of the offline and online integration of recently merged First Union and Wachovia, updated the transfer functionality on its Web site to include future-dated and recurring transfers with end dates. It also made bill pay tasks simpler by summing pending bill payments and presenting the date and amount of the last payment to the merchant when a customer is scheduling a payment.
  • New entrants reflect rapid enhancement pace, competitive space. Associated Bank made its Scorecard debut, while Ohio Savings and PNC returned after a short hiatus (PNC made the cut after adding an online checking account application — a minimum Scorecard requirement). Associated, which offers online check and deposit slip imaging, finished number 25. PNC came in at number 18, powered in some part by a robust, user-friendly account application center. Ohio Savings rounded out the Scorecard at number 30, buoyed by its strong support for applications, hindered by its lack of account management features heavily weighted on the Scorecard, such as check imaging.

If recent events are any indication, the coming review period will continue the heated battle on the usability and utility enhancement fronts. For instance, Citibank’s launch of check imaging on April 6, 2003 just missed the Q2 2003 Scorecard’s functionality cut off. And Charter One, which dropped one place to third overall, is promising customers a new, improved online banking offering.

Meanwhile, number-19 Commerce Bank is offering a credit card payment feature so new customer service representatives were not aware of it during G�mez testing.

While inter-FI transfers are now the talk of the online banking town, only 5 of 30 Scorecard banks already offer the ability to instruct an ACH transfer between an account at that bank and an account at another financial institution within their online banking offerings. And only two of these banks, First National Bank of Omaha and Union Bank of California, are among the Scorecard’s 25 traditional branch-based banks.

“With money still available for consumer banking initiatives and document imaging already on their sites or in the development queue, many banks are seizing on new and different features, such as inter-FI transfers and usability enhancement that streamline cross-selling to keep Web-savvy customers loyal and better served through the lower cost Internet channel,” noted Moriah Campbell-Holt, the G�mez analyst who oversaw the Q2 Internet Banker Scorecard.

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. For firm size, brick-and-mortar banks must have a minimum of $5 billion FDIC-insured deposits in accounts under $100,000 and Internet-only banks must have at least $150 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 Scorecards bi-annually measure the quality of e-commerce offerings, with a predominant focus on the Internet channel and a secondary focus on auxiliary channels and measures. Scorecards rank all firms in an industry that meet minimum standards of service (typically in terms of depth and breadth of product and national availability), and provide a snapshot of how industry players compare and contrast across user profiles and usage categories.

G�mez’s primary investors include: Dolphin Equity Partners of New York; Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures, the London-based venture capital fund of Doughty Hanson & Co; DB Capital Venture Partners, the venture capital arm of Deutsche Bank; and Harbinger/Aurora Funds of Research Triangle Park, NC.

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