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Researchers: European Banks Unprepared For Internet Impact

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) issued a warning to European banks in its new report, claiming that not a single institution is prepared for the impact of the Internet.

Not since the 1930s has "such a widespread sense of unease swept through retail banks around the globe," said the report.

"Most banks mistakenly see the Internet as just a futuristic delivery channel," said PwC's senior banking partner Angus Hislop. "After compiling this report, we believe that the Internet will revolutionise the structure of banking business models around the world."

"The Internet will change how banks communicate, both internally and externally, and how they manage employee and customer relationships."

The big challenge, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, stems from the fact that many banking institutions have distanced themselves from their customers by the use of technology such as ATM. The Internet, by contrast, offers an alternative that customers prefer.

"The Web allows us the opportunity to re-create the customer relationship, and we believe, to establish an intimate, personalised association that is based entirely on the customer's terms," said banking partner Tom Jenkins. "From that viewpoint, the Internet is one of the most exciting, positive things that has happened to enhancing customer intimacy in banking history."

Despite the opportunities opened up by the growth of the Internet, banks in Europe and Asia have not been quick to grasp them, says PwC. In fact, the report continues, some European banks still cling to the hope that Web-savvy consumers are essentially a North American phenomenon.

The new report, entitled "Creating Tomorrow's Leading Retail Bank," was published in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit.