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07:47 AM
Vivian Wagner
Vivian Wagner
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Electronic Bill Payment on Upswing, Study Reports

More people use electronic bill payment in 2001 than in 1999.

Significantly more people are using electronic bill payment in 2001 than in 1999, according to a recent study by Synergistics Research.

Of the 1,000 Internet-using households across the United States that were surveyed by Synergistics, one-quarter reported using electronic bill payment, up from one-tenth in 1999.

"We are seeing growth in the use of electronic bill payment," said Genie Driskill, head of research at Synergistics. "We're off to a good start. It indicates that efforts are being made to introduce the service."

Usage of electronic bill payment is highest among younger consumers, with one-third of 18- to 34-year-olds reporting that they have used an electronic bill payment service, while only one in six of those aged 65 or older report doing so. The study also shows that usage is more prevalent among the affluent (those who earn at least $100,000 a year) than those with lower incomes (less than $25,000 a year).

Overall, the Synergistics study suggests that banks have been successful in luring early adopters to electronic bill payment. Now, however, they face the stiffer challenge of attracting mainstream Internet users.

"The results show a substantial base of Internet users who use electronic bill payment," said Driskill. "These people are people you'd expect-early adopters. There's still a lot of work to be done to encourage the next wave."

According to the study, Internet users have often heard about electronic bill payment, but many don't know exactly what is available to them through their own bank.

Synergistics recommends that banks beef up their marketing efforts. "There's a high degree of awareness, but they're not sure it's available to them," said Driskill. "A great deal of marketing needs to go to customers to make sure they know the service is available."

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