E-Banking: Trend, Status, Challenges and Policy Issues

Table of contents


In addition to introduction (section I) and conclusion (section VI), the paper includes four sections.

  • Section II addresses the definition and current situation of e-banking.
  • Then, section III addresses the impact of e-banking on banking business.
  • After that, section IV addresses the major application of e-banking. That is also the bottom line whether e-banking can be viable in a country.
  • Section V addresses the new challenges e-banking has brought and policy implications from the perspectives of society, banks, and regulatory authority as well as government.


• The Internet includes all related web-enabling technologies and open telecommunication networks ranging from direct dial- up, the public World Wide Web, cable, and virtual private networks. (BIS-EBG, 2003)

• Internet banking (e-banking) is defined to include the provision of retail and small value banking products and services through electronic channels as well as large value electronic payments and other wholesale banking services delivered electronically. (BIS-EBG, 2003)

Fundamental characteristics

Comparison between the current round financial innovation (e-banking) and past financial innovations The current innovation (ebanking) Content Delivery channel innovation-deliver banking business via internet. Impact Wider Past financial innovations Products and services, i.e. , delivery, swap Narrow

Levels/Scope of e-banking business

Basic information e-banking/web sites that just disseminate information on banking products and services offered to bank customers and the general public; Simple transactional e-banking /web sites that allow bank customers o submit applications for different services, make queries on their account balances, and submit instructions to the bank, but do no permit any account transfers;  Advanced transactional e-banking/web sites that allow bank customers to electronically transfer funds to/from their accounts pay bills, and conduct other banking transaction online. Usually, e-banking refers to types II and III.

Current development situations (in industrial countries)

E-banking products and services are getting more and more advanced and increasing in variety. From providing information at the early stage to providing transactional activities. Both volume and share in the total banking business are getting bigger and bigger very fast (Graph, Europe) E-banking customer base is getting bigger quickly.

Status in developing countries

Developing countries are in catching up in e-banking: The average e-banking penetration for developing countries by the end of 1999 was close to 5% (World Bank Survey, 2001). In Brazil, the number of e-banking users reached 8 million in 2000.

In Mexico, the number of e-banking users reached 1. 5 million in 2000. In India, over 50 banks are offering online banking services. ICICI Bank’s e-banking is very impressing. E-banking in Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan (China) is thriving. In Ghana and some other African countries, smart cards based on Visa Horizon proximately technologies are getting started.


Impact of E-banking on traditional banking. The early conventional wisdom:

  • Internet banking would destroy the traditional banking business model and promote the entry of newcomers from the outside of the banking industry.
  • Developing countries could have the “opportunities to leapfrog” in the adoption of efinance on a large scale.
  • In reality, e-banking develops fast, but not damaging as conventional wisdom projected.

The notion of leapfrog has not worked in many developing countries due to various impediments. This can be verified by UNCTAD report. “Some positive signs are 3 already visible, including a high level of acceptance of technology by customers and financial institutions…. However, most projects have not yet been deployed on a large scale. ” (UNCTAD 2002. It provides a comprehensive look at the status of efinance in developing countries.It covers arrange of areas related to e- finance including e-banking, e-payments, e-trades, and e-credit information).

Even in industrial countries, e-banking is still a complementary tools to traditional banking. Lots of pure e-banking businesses have been forced out of market. Internet-only banks have been substantially less profitable. They generate lower business volumes and any savings generated by lower physical overheads appear to be offset by other types of non-interest expenditures, notably marketing to attract new customers. (De Young 2001).

Prevailing vision .The prevailing view today is that Internet banking can only succeed if it is thoroughly integrated within the existing banking infrastructure, which should combine “click” (e-banking) with “mortar” (physical branches) due to the importance of public trust in banks, the value of an established brand name, and the desire of customers to do something physically.

According to this view, Internet is regarded simply as another distribution channel as a complement to physical braches, phone banking and ATM networks. The dominance of the so-called “click and mortar” model can be explained by its success on the ground. Two good examples are Wells Fargo in the US and Nordea in Scandinavia.

Nordea (Scandinavia), has 2. 3 million online customers, representing over 20% of its total customer base. It has the highest share of online customers. They share the following common elements:  Both are leaders in their traditional markets and thus can capitalize on a sizable customer base. Furthermore, their customer base is technologically sophisticated. California and Scandinavia have extremely high rates of Internet use. Both are technologically advanced and started early in Internet deployment.

Wells Fargo started e-banking business as early as in 1989. Both have tightly integrated Internet in their operations and their existing infrastructure. Both have large number of SME customer base.

Prospects Bottom line

the ability to mainstream SME and individuals into E-banking.


The major application of e-banking—SME finance E-banking is used more and more for improving access to finance. Financial constraints for SMEs have never been effectively solved and have been thought inevitable. This section will cover the advantages of e-banking on this aspect.

Obstacles to SME’s access to finance

  • from banks’ perspective

High costs and low profitability of SME loans because of the small loan size. High risks of SME loans due to lack of business track record, credit history, and transparent information. Evaluating SME risk is “too labor- intensive” to be profitable. Many banks lack strategies and skills to tackle impediments associated with SME finance. In many developing countries, the staff of banks lack necessary skills to appropriately assess credit risks of SMEs

  • from SME’s perspective

Inappropriate products and services, which are rigidly supply-driven instead of demand-driven. Commercial bank products are usually designed to meet the needs of large corporations; few products and service are specifically tailored to the needs of SMEs. SME sector is usually underserved.

High interest rates. SMEs usually require much smaller loans than large enterprises. banks, therefore, usually charge high margins to cover the costs.

Over insistence on collaterals and guarantees. SMEs usually have low- level of fixed assets and relatively high- level of working capital. Therefore, when lending to an SME, a bank needs to assess the SME’s economic viability and future cash flows instead of collaterals. However, in many developing countries, banks are still in the very early stage of mastering sound lending policies and good credit practices. Their lending appears to simply rely on collateral rather than cash- flow projections. banks’ lack of capacity of non-collateral credit assessment has caused them unable to provide lending services to SMEs.

New Technology, New Hope for SME Finance

From bank’s side, new technology (e-banking) makes SME finance economically possible lower operational costs of banks

  • Automated process
  • Accelerated credit decisions
  • Lowered minimum loan size to be profitable potentially lower margins
  • Lower cost of entry Expanded financing reach Increased transparency  expand reach through self-service Lower transaction cost Make some corporate services economically feasible for SMEs Make anytime access to accounts and loan information possible.

From SMEs’ perspective E-banking business makes access to finance from banks attractive. SMEs have benefited from the development of E- finance and gradually stepped out of the informal sector. In particular, E- finance offers the following attractive benefits for SMEs: Ease of use Lower costs of financing Convenience Time savings Operational efficienc

From the government’s perspective New technologies have provided the incentives/benefits for the government to improve SME finance by

  • Increasing employment.
  • Contributing to poverty reduction.
  • Contributing to economic development.
  • Reducing the informal sector and cash economy.

Challenges and policy implications

Cross-border e-banking is defined as the provision of transactional on- line banking products or service by a bank in one country to residents of another country. BIS, 2003)

  • A note on the definition: A bank delivering its e-banking activities via its physical branches/ subsidiaries in a host country does count into cross-border e-banking.

A further note: banks can use the new delivery channel (e-banking) reach customers in another country without as much reliance on physical presence and the significant investment that it entails (example).

Two scenarios

The in-out scenario — In-country institutions providing banking services to customers outside the home country.The out- in scenario—institutions based outside the home country providing banking services to parties within the home country.

Raised many challenges and questions for banking regulatory authorities (both home and host)

  • Who should take the supervision responsibility? The borderless nature of e-banking increase the potential for jurisdictional ambiguities with respect to the supervisory responsibilities of different national authorities. Such situations could lead to of cross-border e-banking activities.
  • Does it need to be licensed? Banks that engage in cross-border e-banking may face increased legal risk. Specifically, unless banks conduct adequate due diligence they run the risk of potential non-compliance with different national laws and regulations, including 8 applicable consumer protection laws, record-keeping and reporting requirements, privacy rules, AML rules.
  • Non-banks may offer with greater facility bank- like services without any type of supervisory approval or oversight due to definitional ambiguities that may exist wit regard to what constitutes a bank (or banking services).
  • Which country’s law applies to cross-border e-banking activities. Role and responsibilities of the home country banking supervisor and local supervisor. Supervisors need to recognize that the Internet allows for the provision of e-banking services that can p geographic borders and potentially call into question existing jurisdictional authorization requirements and the regulatory processes;
  • Supervisors need to recognize the implications of taking a restrictive approach toward currently regulated banks without an even-handed treatment of foreign organizations that may conduct identical or nearly identical activities via the Internet in the local jurisdiction. Supervisors should ensure that banks appropriately manage the legal uncertainty during the period while the legal infrastructure for cross-border e-banking remains under construction.

Policy goal

The objective of both the host and home supervisors should be to avoid or minimize legal risks stemming from jurisdictional ambiguities, and to ensure that e-banking activities are adequately supervised with clearly defined supervisory responsibilities.

Basic principle

Focus attention on the need for effective home country supervision of cross-border e-banking activities on a consolidated basis as well as continued international cooperation between home and local banking supervisors regarding such activities given the possible absence of a physical banking presence in local jurisdiction. Such as focus is essential to promote safe and sound cross-border e- 9 banking without creating undue regulatory burden or impediments to banks’ use of the internet delivery channel to meet customer needs.

Complementary principle

Home supervisors should provide host supervisors with clear information on how they oversee a bank’s e-banking activities on a consolidated level. Host supervisor would generally rely on the home supervisor to effectively carry out its supervisory program. Where there are concerns about the effectiveness of a home supervisor’s oversight program, the host would approach the home supervisor on a bilateral basis. The host supervisor will need to consider what actions may be appropriate to protect local residents and their banking system.

Cooperation among national supervisors . Rapid pace of development of e-banking and the associated risks will require supervisory agility, resources and, in the crossborder context, cooperation between home and host supervisors.


  1. Theft of personal identity
  2. Privacy issues
  3. Who take the responsibility in case of fraud

Essential are efforts to define the privacy framework and to use technology to solve contract enforcement problems.

This intensifies challenges to the management to ensure that adequate strategic assessment, risk 10 analysis and securities reviews are conducted prior to implementing new e-banking applications.

Outsourcing issue

E-banking increase banks’ ependence on information technology, thereby increasing the technical complexity of many operational and security issues and furthering a trend towards more partnerships, alliances and outsourcing arrangements with third parties, many of whom are unregulated.

E-security issue

The internet is ubiquitous and global by nature. It is an open network accessible from anywhere in the world by unknown parties, with routing of messages through unknown locations and via fast evolving wireless devices.Therefore, it raises significant challenges on security controls, customer authentication techniques, data protection, audit trail procedures, and customer privacy standards. § While companies have been keen to embrace the potential offered by these technologies, few understand the inherent vulnerability and risks associated with e- finance. Since 1999, Brazil has seen a 418% increase in electronic security incidents; Korea has seen a 932% increase and Japan has seen over 1000% increase in malicious electronic security incidents (Tom Glaessner et al, 2003).

Authentication of e-banking customers

  • Appropriate measures to ensure segregation of duties
  • Establishment of clear audit trails for e-banking transactions
  • Non-repudiation and accountability for e-banking transactions
  • Centralized-back office to free staff time in sales and services areas and to consolidate process consistently across the organization.

Develop automated credit authorization system by developing appropriate credit scoring system and cash- flow scoring system to reduce operating costs, improve asset quality, and increase client profitability.One of the major benefits of credit scoring system is that lenders can make credit decisions without necessarily obtaining financial statement, credit reports, or other time-consuming and hard-to-get information. In particular, the financial statements of SMEs are often not complete and difficult to get.

Legal and reputational risk management

  • Appropriate disclosures for e-banking services
  • Privacy of customer information
  • Capacity, business continuity and contingency planning to ensure availability of e-banking systems and services
  • Incident response planning.

Policy implications/recommendations

  • Improve system infrastructure environment for e-banking business Strengthen payment system (including RTGS, bulk/low value payment system).
  • Improve the settlement system (e. g. , for credit cards and other forms of electronic transactions).
  • Build-up transaction reporting/reconciliation services.
  • Establish credit information registry and disseminating system.
  • Credit information registries, commonly known as credit bureaus in many countries, can reduce the extent of asymmetric information by making a borrower’s credit history available to 3 potential lenders.
  • Lenders armed with this data can avoid making loans to high risk customers, with poor repayment histories, defaults, or bankruptcies.
  • Once a lender makes a loan, the borrower knows that their performance will be reported to the credit bureau.
  • The information contained in a credit registry becomes part of the borrower’s “reputation collateral”; late payments or defaults reduce the value of this “collateral” providing an additional incentive for timely repayment.
  • At the same time, by reducing the information monopoly that banks have over their existing borrowers,

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