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Internet banking an SME plus: survey

INTERNET banking is helping small-to-medium enterprises save time and energy, according to Small Business Development Corporation managing director George Etrelezis.

Mr Etrelezis said a recent SBDC survey revealed 32 per cent of small business owners utilised the Internet for electronic banking.

“This figure will grow as SMEs realise it prevents them having to interrupt themselves or a worker to do business banking,” Mr Etrelezis said.

“It allows them to watch their cash flow on a daily basis. Twenty-four hour access means they can concentrate on their core business and do their banking after hours.

“Keeping a vigilant eye on the status of the bank account is particularly relevant with the GST.”

Challenge Bank national manager of business relationship markets Paul Haselhurst said banks played a major role in educating consumers about online services.

“People seem to want a lot of assurances that it is safe,” Mr Haselhurst said.

“Once you get into paying third parties, there needs to be an extra level of security. Developing this didn’t come about overnight – it had to be accurate.

“Being time-poor, today’s business people want to communicate more efficiently and various online banking methods will continue to evolve and emerge,” he said.

Mr Haselhurst said most SMEs wanted simple solutions that were not necessarily product-based.

“SMEs want support and advice – knowledge is power,” he said.

“The Internet offers a conduit to provide an enormous amount of information and we have saved a lot of customers ‘hunting around’ time over the past six months by providing data on Y2K and GST.”

Challenge Bank recently launched a series of educational Internet banking demonstrations on television to coincide with enhancements to the service.

The enhancements will enable the export of transactions to financial management software such as Quicken, MS Money and MYOB.

Challenge Bank CEO Tony Howarth said the bank’s WA customers had embraced Internet banking with registration figures reaching 31,000 in April this year.

“With 250,000 customers now registered Australia-wide, we’ve achieved a staggering 200 per cent increase in the rate of Internet banking registrations in twelve months,” Mr Howarth said.

Recent Challenge Bank research revealed the number of customers prepared to use the service was set to grow to more than 30 per cent in the next two years.

The research also showed Generation X-ers – those aged between 25 and 34 – currently account for more than one third of all online customers.

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