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Internet banks have proved adept recently in targeting one of the web’s fastest growing demographics – the silver surfer, according to new data.

Figures for 2006 from payment association Apacs show that over-55s provided the greatest proportion of new UK online banking customers in the past five years.

The stats show growth of 174% in the number of adults using online banking between 2001 and 2006, with a 350% increase in the over 55 age group.

At the same time, telephone banking has seen lower growth – Apacs says uptake of online banking uptake has surpassed that of phone banking, despite research showing customers are often better off using phone services than their banks' websites.

Seventeen million adults were using online banking services in the UK in 2006, up from 6.2m in 2001, according to Apacs' data.

It shows that online bank customers make more purchases per year than those that don’t use the service.

The research found highest growth in uptake by 55-64 year olds - 425% in the period - although there was also a 275% rise in usage by people of 65+. 

Figures released by Hitwise in May showed that over 55s were close to becoming the largest age group online in the UK.

Overall, however, the highest usage of online banking is still among 35-44 year olds; 4.2m of which use the service.

There are also 4.1m users of between 25 and 34, although customers of that age rose by 95% in the five years, a much slower rate than others.

Uptake among over 55s has now reached 3.6m, according to Apacs.

Sandra Quinn, director of communications at the group said:

“While younger people continue to make up the majority of online banking users, the greatest proportion of new internet bankers are the over 55s. As a group they have come to embrace the ease and efficiency that online banking offers.”

Related stories: Interview: Warner Breaks' Mat Finch on silver surfers


Published 28 August, 2007 by Richard Maven

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