Banks seen charging for premium Web content, says Jupiter

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Owners of business and finance Web sites are likely to start charging visitors for premium content, a survey by Internet research firm Jupiter MMXI predicted on Wednesday.

Many banks and online brokers have found that the investment they have made in technology for the Internet has not been repaid in profits.

In the case of banks, they have spent money on creating an additional distribution channel for customers to use but this has not resulted in significant cost savings elsewhere in the business or meaningful revenue rises.

Online brokers saw volumes rise sharply but the downturn in equity markets over the past year has seen a collapse in trading volume and even the German firms - which have carried the bigger volumes - have been pushed into the red.

"The Internet pure plays, as well as the banks and brokers, will have to charge their users for premium content, such as in-depth background research and real-time quotes," said Patricia Lueer, finance analyst at Jupiter MMXI said.

The survey showed that more Europeans are visiting business and finance Internet sites and stay for longer each time they visit, according to the latest survey by Jupiter MMXI.

More than 20 million Europeans, 70% of them male, logged on to finance sites in May including visits to online banking, online share trading, insurance services and financial information.

In France, for example, the proportion of Internet users visiting finance sites more than doubled in the year to May 2001 to 38% from 18.5%, and they also spent more than 50% more time at each visit.

Information about what people actually do when they visit finance Web sites is less easy to garner but Jupiter MMXI does monitor activity on the actual online banking pages of bank Web sites and says a big majority of visitors to them do actually execute some banking transactions.

At the UK`s Abbey National, for example, 78% of visitors did some banking, Jupiter MMXI said and for some banks, such as Halifax, the figures are even higher.

Reuters News Service

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