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Online-banking consumers can do well by doing good, improving financial control while eliminating the paper bills, statements and checks that harm the environment – saving 17 million trees and avoiding 4 billion tons of greenhouse gases a year – according to a recent report from Javelin Strategy & Research.

The report, titled “2007 Online Banking and Bill Payment: Trends, Forecasts, and Strategies for Reinvigorating Growth and Adoption,” finds that those who have yet to use online banking have become more entrenched in their objections over time, saying they “prefer to deal with people” or because of fears of fraud.

As a result, adoption of online banking has begun to slow, according to the report; but by underscoring the environmental benefits of paperless banking, financial institutions can continue to gain online customers, the report suggests.

Some key findings of the Javelin Strategy & Research report:

  • Some 61 million households now bank online (53% of the US households), which is projected to reach 82 million households by 2012, or 67% of US households.
  • 39 million households pay bills at individual biller sites; that number is projected to reach 50 million by 2012.
  • Bills viewed or paid at bank sites will grow even faster as financial providers give consumers the features they’ve wanted all along.
  • The yearly benefits – if all US households viewed and paid bills online:
    • Saves 2.3 million tons of wood, or 16.5 million trees.
    • Reduces fuel consumption by 26 million BTUs – enough energy to provide residential power to San Francisco for an entire year.
    • Decreases toxic air pollutants by 3.9 billion pounds of CO2 equivalents (greenhouse gases), akin to having 355,000 fewer cars on the road.
    • Reduces toxic wastewater by 13 billion gallons, enough to fill almost 20,000 swimming pools.
    • Lowers solid waste generated by 1.6 billion pounds – equal to 56,000 fully loaded garbage trucks.
    • Removes 8.5 million particulates and 12.6 million nitrogen oxides from the air – on par with taking 763,000 buses and 48,000 18-wheelers off the streets.

In assessing other trends illustrated by the report, author Mary Monahan said, “People manage their assets and bills online to gain control of time, finances and safety. Bankers can meet consumer needs while providing vital environmental benefits.”

“In addition, emerging features such as two-way mobile or email alerts and preset user-defined limits and prohibitions (UDLAPs) can transform today’s overwhelming flood of online information into an experience that is green, safe and practical for everyone.”

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