Security Worries Slow Online Banking Growth - InformationWeek

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5/12/2006
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Security Worries Slow Online Banking Growth

An overwhelming majority of Americans want guarantees that banks won't sell their personal data online and assurances that their data will be protected from hackers.

Anxiety over Internet security continues to make Americans leery of online banking, new research released Friday said.

Adoption of online banking has slowed, said a study conducted by research firm eMarketer, over security concerns, and will grow by only 4 percent between now and 2010.

"Security is not a luxury to online banking users, and it cannot be for online banks," said Lisa Phillips, senior analyst and the report's author, in a statement.

According to Phillips, consumers' perception of site security is the key factor in deciding (or not) on online banking. More than 87 percent of the American's surveyed said that they wanted guarantees that the bank wouldn't sell their personal information, while 83 percent demanded assurances that their data would be protected from hackers.

By the end of 2006, 58 percent of U.S. households with Internet access will do their banking online, eMarketer projected. But by 2010, the percentage will have only climbed to 62 percent, even though the percentage of American households with Web access will have jumped from 78 to 90 percent in that same four-year span.

eMarketer isn't the first research firm to make the connection between security perceptions and online banking, or mark the slowdown in e-banking adoption. In April, for instance, Web metrics firm CommScore Networks said that the pool of online banking users grew by just 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005 over the previous quarter, the lowest sequential growth in three years.

To help allay worries and get e-banking back on track, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) released new guidelines last October that called on banks and other financial institutions to add two-factor authentication by the end of 2006.

"The [FFIEC] considers single-factor authentication to be inadequate for high-risk transactions involving access to customer information or the movement of funds," said the new guidelines.

A username/password combination, often the only safeguard on e-bank accounts, is considered a single-factor method of authentication.

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