Despite the prevalence of phishing scams and other IT security issues, the number of people signing up for online banking continues to grow. However, the rate of increase is slowing.
In Australia, eight million out of a population of 18.5 million now bank online, with a total of 151 million online transfers carried out in the last quarter of last year. But the rate of new users to online banking has slowed to 2.8 percent, according to statistics released by the Market Intelligence Strategy Centre.
While the slowdown could be argued to represent people's fears over the safety of online banking, those who already use it don't appear to have been put off, with transactions continuing to increase, especially in rural areas.
"We get many more enquires from non-customers who got a hoax e-mail from Bendigo Bank, even if there has been no evidence of a phishing-style attack," said Owen Davies, spokesman for the Aussie bank. "What happened after the first phishing attack in February was that the number of log-ons increased steeply, which we interpreted as people logging on to check account details."
However, as people saw their accounts hadn't been compromised, they seemed satisfied. "A series of attacks in May, June and July saw no change to the trend line - we've had an education campaign online since the first phishing attack, issuing a series of warnings and updating them constantly," said Davies.
In the June 2003 period compared to June 2004, registered users to the e-bank service increased by 38.4 percent and has been in steady growth for the past three years. Active users (those that registered and used the banking service regularly) increased by 34.8 percent and the number of actual transactions increased by a whopping 89.5 percent.
Peter Bottomley, managing director of Internet banking for the National Australia Bank said online banking customers generally don't fall prey to the scams and incidents that have been occurring over the past 18 months. "People might not be fully geared up when it comes to clicking on pop-up ads and the like, but when it comes to money [people] are very switched on."
So as long as scams require people to actively compromise themselves, rather than the bank make mistakes, it would appear that people are willing to trust their own faculties. That doesn't mean they won't get scammed of course.