The number of people using online banking services at Bank of America has nearly doubled in 2004, the bank reported Tuesday.

In announcing results of a study documenting consumers’ reasons for banking online, BoA said it now has 12.4 million online customers, up from 7.2 million at this time a year ago.

The number of people paying bills online has also surged, reaching 5.6 million, up from 3.2 million at the end of last year.

The BoA growth reflects a growing trend. According to The Online Banking Report, more than 55 million US households are expected to be using online banking services by 2010. The report says that 20 percent of Internet users are already banking online.

The BoA study cited several reasons for the continued growth, including a top three of:

  • Around-the-clock access to account information (64 percent)

  • Convenience (54 percent)

  • Time savings (48 percent)
  • BoA says it is the largest bank in terms of online customers.

    Younger people see online banking as “routine”, the study says.

    Older babyboomers cited security as a primary driver for using online services.

    However, the study also reports that security concerns remained the “No. 1 impediment” for switching to banking electronically.

    “For most consumers, the primary impetus for banking online is the inherent value in time savings and convenience,” said Sanjay Gupta, e-Commerce executive at BoA. “Our goal is to use a variety of methods to understand what we call ‘Voice of the Customer,’ then introduce new products and services that make it easier for customers to bank online.”

    As part of its study plus focus groups and email feedback, BoA is responding to requests for additional services that include person-to-person transfers, electronic rather than paper statements, and email alerts.

    Bank of America: www.bankofamerica.com