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Teething trouble for internet banks signalled Back  
European internet banks do not respond to up to 50 per cent of client e-mails within eight hours according to an international survey of financial services providers by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. That figure is even higher in the US where 64 per cent of e-mails are unanswered in the same time period.

The report Electronic Commerce: A need to change perspective’ is based on figures from 1999 and illustrates that fear of competition is driving many companies to provide internet offerings.

Pat Talbot of Cap Gemini and Irish partner leading the survey said that Ireland was showing the same trends as its European peers. Two per cent of the respondents to the survey were Irish he said.

‘Financial services companies are under intense pressure to produce an e-commerce offer as quickly as possible and there is a danger that many are compromising the quality of that offer. It is essential that they focus on a multi-channel strategy that enhances the customer experience and helps to increase customer take up of e-commerce.’

The survey also found that the fear of being left behind in the competition to be online was more prominent in the minds of the financial services industry than concerns over internet security. Security issues had topped the agenda for the industry worldwide in the two previous surveys.

The report highlights that internet banking is not fully integrated with the other banking channels meaning that in some cases the online version does not have the same access to customer files and information and is not as up to date as the branches.

‘The challenge seems to be in integrating the different services in the back office but back office integration is critical to internet banking success’ believes Talbot.

Talbot also said that scale of operation of internet banking is an issue for Irish institutions.

The report highlights that internet banking is not yet providing the cost benefits expected.

Cap Gemini Ernst & Young’s ninth survey of the financial services industry has shown that there is a shift in the pressures on e-commerce providers. It is based on data from 1999.

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