Chinese bankers have shown a persisting interest in online banking services despite the overall recession of the network economy.
While state-owned commercial banks like the Merchant Bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank (ICBC), the Agricultural Bank, the Bank of China and the Construction Bank (CBC) have launched online banking services, small and medium-sized banks including CITIC Industrial Bank, Everbright Bank and Shenzhen Development Bank are seeking upgrades to their e-banks.
With online banking services, the customers can have access to their accounts, allocate funds and make payments through a simple click of the mouse at home.
Dr. Zhou Yonglin from ICBC Zhejiang Branch said online banking services have cut costs and made it more convenient for customers by diverting some transactions from the bank counters.
If leading banks go online to make things more convenient for their customers and cut costs, small and medium-sized banks, on the other hand, will naturally seek to compete with leading banks with the help of the Internet.
"The network has brought about a set of new rules that allow fair play between small and medium-sized banks and leading banks," said Chen Yuming, an engineer with the Hangzhou Branch of the Shenzhen Development Bank.
Meanwhile, network technologies make banks more "versatile". In addition to traditional transactions such as saving, deposit, extending loans and settlement, banks are now able to provide comprehensive financial services ranging from investment, insurance, consultancy to other derivative financial services.
Statistics show that by the end of 1999 over 2,700 banks across the world had launched online financial services.
In China, all commercial banks have opened e-banks. ICBC Zhejiang Branch, for example, has over 200,000 registered customers for its e-bank, and transactions through the e-bank have totaled 10 billion yuan (about US$1.205 billion).
According to sources at a CBC branch in Ningbo, a major city in east China's Zhejiang Province, the branch has handled 116,000 online transactions during the past ten months, a monthly increase of 30 percent.
(Xinhua News Agency 07/04/2001)