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Survey: Internet Use for Financial Transactions Widespread

BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 14, 2002 — Nearly all treasury and finance professionals in a recent survey conducted by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) reported widespread use of the Internet for finance functions. The use of the Web is growing — especially for cash management, investment and foreign exchange — despite the tech slowdown and the notable failures of many dot-coms and application service providers over the last year.

The survey revealed that while expectations for rapid adoption have become more realistic, healthy growth in Internet usage in finance functions is expected in the next year.

“We find that there is an expanding role for the Internet in financial services, and that it continues to be increasingly important for the day-to-day responsibilities of financial professionals, even during a period where there have been some notable setbacks for the technology industry as a whole,” said Jim Kaitz, AFP's president and CEO.

Key findings of the survey:

– Cash management, the day-to-day handling of a company's cash flows and banking relationships, is by far the finance function most likely to be handled via the Internet. Eighty-six percent of the respondents use the Internet for cash management. Around a half of the respondents also use the Internet for investment and foreign exchange services while significantly fewer respondents use the Internet for other areas queried in the survey (bank loans, letters of credit, insurance, bonds/commercial paper, and derivatives hedging).

– Most Internet usage with respect to finance functions is devoted to obtaining information and communicating with service providers. However, 62 percent of the respondents also use the Internet to transact cash management business.

– Recent growth in the use of the Internet has been centered among three finance functions. Sixty-two percent reported an increase in cash management, 34 percent reported an increase for foreign exchange services, and 35 percent reported an increase in connection with investments. Practitioners find the Internet to be a valuable tool for their treasury functions, as virtually none of the respondents said they had reduced their usage over the past year.

– Most respondents expect that their company's usage of the Internet in connection with cash management will increase over the next year. Nearly half of respondents also expect to increase their usage of the Internet for their investment and foreign exchange activities.

– Respondents cited that barriers to Internet usage continue to be security (84 percent), authentication of counterparties (79 percent), enforceability of contracts (57 percent), inability to integrate data with internal systems (54 percent), and credit quality of counterparties (52 percent).

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