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China's E-banks Set for Golden Age: Survey
At least 2.5 million Chinese "netizens" -- about 23 percent of the country's regular Internet users -- are likely to use electronic banking services, said a recent AC Nielson survey on e-banking.

The survey found 23 percent of Internet users have tried some basic e-banking services, of whom 30 percent have even tried more than two e-banks.

About 100,000 Internet surfers use online banking services every day, 337,000 people use them once a week and over one million use them once a month.

The majority of China's 11 million Internet users are willing to try e-banks, though most people surveyed said they were not ready to try one at the moment. Only 30 percent said they wanted to use them now.

Six percent of the netizens surveyed were opposed to e-banks, down from the 14 percent in 2000.

China is on the threshold of a comprehensive e-banking system, said Richard Sandlant, a senior analyst with AC Nielson. Its fledgling e-banking services would probably become an important component of the country's banking system in the future, he said.

Most e-banks were part of a self-defense strategy of traditional banks who were anticipating new rivals in the banking sector, experts said.

Thanks to its convenience, security and efficiency, e-banking has become an extension of traditional banking services and attracted an increasing number of users around the globe.

E-banking made its debut in China in 1999, when three commercial banks launched Internet-based banking services.

Today, e-banking services enjoy immense potential in China as many customers, who are regular Internet users, still go to bank offices for routine transactions, analysts said.

"It won't be long before these people switch to online services,as e-banks and other new services have become a showcase for the competitiveness of domestic banks amid challenges brought by their foreign counterparts," said an observer.

Meanwhile, a central bank official said they were drafting new regulations that would grant domestic banks more autonomy in e-banking services.

AC Nielson analyst Sandlant predicted that China was in for an "e-banking age".

"The boom of e-banks will intensify competition in the banking sector, as the customers will have more choices," he said.

Such competition, followed by lower costs and better services, will ultimately benefit the users, he added.

As a world-leading consultancy, AC Nielson provides market analysis and consulting services to over 100 countries.

(Xinhua News Agency June 24, 2002)

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