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Deena M. Amato-McCoy
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Citibank and Chase Top MBNA/Capital One

Diversified players' online offerings have more functionality than monoline issuers' sites.

As more customers move to the Internet to manage their banking relationships, they seek banking partners that will enable them to manage their credit card accounts online. The top requirements are high-speed page downloads, online statements and online payment options. In addition, diversified players, such as Citibank and Chase, are out-slugging monoline card issuers MBNA and Capital One when it comes to online functionality.

These are the findings from the Q3 2003 Internet Credit Card Scorecard released by Gomez, a Waltham, Mass.-based company that provides research and tools to measure and improve Web sites.

"We research how well the issuer delivers service to the customer through the Web in terms of what features the site offers, how easily services are conducted, and how reliable the site is," explains Chris Musto, vice president of research for Gomez.

Using approximately 200 variables within four categories, Gomez weighs each issuer's overall score. Based on these metrics, Citibank has earned the study's top accolades for the fourth consecutive time.

"The Web is an important channel for us, and it has become a mainstream way for our customers to interact with us," says Amy Radin, executive vice president for the Citi Card eBusiness division, based in Long Island City, N.Y. "There are days when the number of online log-ins exceeds calls into our call center."

Industrywide, the study also revealed that access to online statements is now offered by the majority of issuers (72 percent). Further, 65 percent of online adults who access their credit card accounts online identified online statements as part of the "ideal Web offering," according to Gomez. In other findings, 77 percent of customers told Gomez they rank online bill payment as the most important functionality.

However, Citibank was not the only issuer earning high scores in the recent study. Chase (New York) was one of the study's fast movers, accelerating six spots, from ninth to third, in the overall score of the 18-issuer ranking. Areas that pushed Chase to this level include the creation of log-in fields directly on the creditcardsatchase.com home page, as well as on the chase.com page.

Gomez's study also positively reported that American Express' Web offering remains the epitome of prioritizing content over design. Like Citibank and Chase, New York-based American Express added same-day payments to its sites, a functionality that customers highly value, according to Gomez's research.

Diversified Tops Monoline

Conversely, the study reveals that some monoline issuers, including companies like MBNA (Wilmington, Del.) and Capital One (McLean, Va.), struggle with online credit card functionality. "It is surprising that they do not make their online presences stronger," Musto says.

"While these companies have specific groups dedicated to Internet delivery, it seems surprising that these companies, which focus solely on credit cards, aren't ahead of diversified companies like Chase or Citi that do lots of other things," Musto adds. "This is more evident when you realize that companies like Chase and Citi have very large Internet delivery groups of their own and are competing quite hard in this area."

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