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Britons struggling to manage an increasing number of online financial products will welcome the introduction of data aggregation with open arms, according to research conducted by BT Finance Industry Solutions.

Aggregation enables users to view and manage their accounts, investments and other financial holdings through a single web page with one password. The United States already boasts more than one million users of financial aggregation sites and several financial service providers are set to launch aggregation services in the UK later this year.

“The main objective of the research was to gain a greater understanding of consumer reaction to aggregation,” said Charles Juniper, emerging technology manager for BT Finance Industry Solutions. “BT has been monitoring the development and uptake of these services in the States and we’re keen to understand how UK consumers will react to being able to access their online financial portfolio through one site.”

The research revealed overall expectations for aggregation were very positive and that a demand clearly exists:
- Consumers were prepared to adopt aggregation NOW and all believed such services would be beneficial through added convenience and speed;
- Those surveyed believed it would help them to better manage their finances;
- Aggregators must be recognised and trusted, but more than half felt providers did not have to be financial organisations;

- Wealthier consumers were more likely to accept aggregation from non-financial firms, such as technology companies or retailers;
- There was a cynical perception about ‘big name’ financial providers with many respondents fearing aggregation would amount to another money-making venture;
- All of those surveyed wanted aggregators to offer impartial and free advice through multiple channels, with exceptions including financial health checks and pension planning.

“Impartiality is a priority for British consumers, who will look for an organisation they can rely on and that doesn’t have to be a mainstream financial provider,” said Charles Juniper. “Newcomers to financial services will also have a chance to make their mark in aggregation as long as they can deliver trust and impartiality.”
The research found concerns about security and privacy:
- Most felt the benefits outweighed the risks, but the concentration of services meant respondents felt there was much to lose through poor security;
- There were concerns about what the information would be used for;
- Another fear was unauthorised junk emails, although most users were open to receiving relevant information;
- Liability in the event of fraud, network failure or disputed transactions were other concerns.

“BT’s research shows there will be a tremendous demand for aggregation in this country,” added Charles Juniper. “If an aggregation service was launched tomorrow, there would be instant adoption – the desire for this sort of service already exists. There is a misconception that British consumers are cautious when, in fact, they are willing to embrace anything that makes life easier.

“What potential providers of financial aggregation must understand is that consumers want impartiality and some will find this difficult to deliver. Some organisations are going to have to alter the way they work

“BT has monitored the development of aggregation in the States and we’ve noticed banks have yet to discover how to convert these services into profit. As far as consumers are concerned, aggregation sites have tended to be bland and unable to provide the sort of analytical information that helps users to improve their finances. The average British consumer is very demanding about finance, and aggregation sites need to offer more than just speed and convenience.”

For further information, contact:
Faith Wootton, Band & Brown Communications, tel 020 7419 7000, or

-Notes to editors-
Prodata Partners conducted the research on behalf of BT between February 13th and March 22nd 2001. Six groups, consisting of 59 users of online financial services, were interviewed in Edinburgh, Slough and London during nine hours of discussion.

Charles Juniper will be attending a conference called Account Aggregation: The New European Online Financial Service, on April 30th and May 1st at The Hatton, 51-53 Hatton Garden, London, EC1N 8HN.

BT is a global telecommunications company with over 20 million residential and business customers in the UK alone. But BT is no longer just about telecommunications. BT’s products range from telephones to touch screen financial dealing systems, interactive television to Internet applications and services. Each year, BT invests around £345 million in R&D to push the boundaries of IT and communications. This vast technological understanding and capability, coupled with its hands-on experience on the frontline of customer service, enables BT to understand, harness and exploit advanced communications technology to transform the way people communicate both at work and home.

BT Finance Industry Solutions is a division of BT Major Business, which is an integrated sales, marketing and service division, whose role is to develop and maintain BT’s relationship with more than 4,000 multinational corporate and public sector organisations. Dedicated teams manage these client relationships and their main aim is to add value through in-depth understanding of the organisations and sectors they serve.

BT Finance Industry Solutions has the solutions to ensure the seamless delivery of aggregation services to UK clients. In addition, BT’s focus on CRM solutions and consumer research enables it to help financial providers design services that deliver most value to customers and generate revenue.

BT is not tied to a sole aggregation vendor and can help UK clients understand the relevant benefits of the variety of products and services available. It is able to ensure that aggregation services can be:
- differentiated
- integrated within existing web-site and portal infrastructure and services
- integrated into existing multi-channel capability or enhanced to deliver services via multiple channels including mobile devices
- enhanced to maximise the lifetime value of the customer
- enhanced to give valued services to consumers
- delivered using secure data transmission

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