Report on the internet economy. In focus: The financial sector Q2 2002

01. 09. 2002.

In association with Westel Mobile Telecommunications Co. and Sun Microsystems Hungary, GKI Economic Research Co. conducts quarterly surveys on corporate internet usage and the development of the electronic economy in Hungary. The present report outlines the financial sector’s position in the internet economy.

Brief summary:

* The number of personal online banking customers increased by 11% in the second quarter of 2002 to 190 thousand. The growth rate of the number of customers declines from quarter to quarter, but banks are still expecting significant gains in the number of online banking clients.

* Insurance companies carry out a negligible share of their sales over the internet. In the first half of 2002 revenues from online sales were below 0.5 percent. Insurance companies believe that the rate of online sales will not exceed 1% in 2003, either.

* Savings cooperatives  show an increasing interest in the internet: 80% of the respondents had internet access and almost 30% had their own websites at the end of the first half of 2002.

As in numerous other research projects of GKIeNET,  the results of this survey  are synthesized in a single index. This sentiment index represents  the expectations of the financial sector (banks, insurance companies, securities firms) regarding the market impact of internet use and internet applications.

In the second quarter of 2002 the GKI-Westel E-Finance Index did not change significantly from the previous quarter. The current level of 12.6 indicates moderate  optimism in the financial sector regarding internet-related business opportunities.

GKI-Westel e-Finance index

On June 30, 2002 banks offering checking account services had approximately  190 thousand personal internet banking customers, reflecting an 11% increase over the period of three months and a 30% rise over the past six months. The year-on-year growth in the number of non-corporate online banking customers  was almost 90%.

Number of internet retail customers at banks offering current account services

The growth rate of personal online customers is slowing every quarter: the 30% growth in early 2002 dropped to around 10% by mid-2002. Banks are still predicting substantial rises in the number of online customers in both the household and corporate segments for the next twelve months.

In the first half of 2002 the online transactions of insurance companies amounted to a few tenths of a percent of the total sales volume. According to responding insurance companies, revenues from internet sales will remain well below 1% in 2002 as a whole and even in 2003, although the number of insurance companies offering internet transactions is expected to increase.

Savings cooperatives show an increasing interest in the internet: 80% of the respondents had internet access in mid-2002. 27% have their own websites and 30% are planning to set up websites within the next twelve months, A relatively high percentage of savings cooperatives (43%) have currently no plans to have their own websites.

Proportion of saving cooperatives with their own website

Two savings cooperatives offered online checking account services in mid-2002, serving a few thousand customers. An additional four of the responding banks indicated that they were planning to launch online financial services over the course of this year, while 64% intend to start offering web-based services at a later time. 28% have no plans to provide financial services over the internet.

The survey was carried out over the period of July-August 2002, covering all credit institutions, savings cooperatives, insurance companies and securities firms. The survey was highly representative: banks and savings cooperatives were represented at 67% and 48%, respectively, in terms of total assets,  insurance companies were represented at 69% in terms of premium revenues, and securities firms at 18% in terms of the response rate.

GKIeNET Ltd. – Westel Mobile Telecommunications Co. – Sun Microsystems Hungary Ltd.