Swiss Lead Way in European Online Banking

[London, ENGLAND] Swiss banks Credit Suisse and UBS are leading
the pack in Europe’s online retail banking industry, Forrester
Research said Wednesday.

Close behind the Swiss are the French, with Banque Directe and
BNP Paribas respectively running third and fourth. Behind them
come the Finns with one bank and the Germans with four banks
in the top ten. From the U.K., only Barclays — sharing sixth
place — is rated as having one of the better online services
in Europe.

Brian Gross, analyst at Forrester’s European headquarters in
Amsterdam, commented that the Swiss came top because of what
he identified as their “comprehensive, integrated offerings.”

“Consistently integrating a gamut of products and services
with useful tools like portfolio analyzers, these sites come
closest to what it will take to win the battle for customers
in Europe’s online banking war,” said Gross.

According to Forrester, many European banks will struggle
against competition with portals, brokerages, and insurers
— many of which are starting offer services to meet all
their customers’ financial needs.

However, some of the most sophisticated offerings from
European banks have yet to arrive, and could not therefore
have been included in the Forrester assessment. For example,
HSBC customers will have access to the
new online investment
from Merrill Lynch HSBC, a billion dollar venture
aimed at the self-directed investor.

Forrester says that European banks will need to offer
“Personal Finance Management” to their customers,
including sites that are rich in content and have
powerful financial planning tools.

“Most banks are proud that they have brought payments and
statements to the Internet, but this is no time for them
to sit back and bask in their achievements,” said Gross.

He added that Internet banking is now reaching mainstream
customers — the very people who are being targeted by
spin-off banks from insurers, brokers, and financial media.

It is, as Gross said, a cutthroat business that is nothing
less than a war for survival. He warned that although the
top 25 banks in Europe are each pouring hundreds of millions
of euros into e-commerce, not all of them will convert their
offline strength into online strength.

The way forward, according to Forrester, is “holistic financial
planning” services that include such features as account
aggregation, online advice, and a product selection from an
array of suppliers.

To summarize, Forrester’s Top Ten European Online Retail Banks are:

1. Credit Suisse (Switzerland)
2. UBS (Switzerland)
3. Banque Directe (France)
4. BNP Paribas (France)
5. Merita Bank (Finland)
6. Barclays (U.K.)
6. Advance Bank (Germany)
6. Commerzbank (Germany)
6. Deutsche Bank (Germany)
10. Direkt Anlage Bank (Germany)
10. Banca 121 (Italy)

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