European online accounts will grow to 16.8 million by 2003, IDC says

LONDON – MAY 10, 2000 – According to IDC's latest figures, the number of online trading accounts in Europe will grow from 1.85 million at the end of 1999 to 4.4 million by the end of this year and to an amazing 16.8 million by 2003.

"Europe is now in the stage of rapid online trading account growth," said Luisa Bordoni, Vice President of IDC's European Vertical Market Research. "During this take-up phase, brokers must focus on surviving by gaining enough market share to become sustainable players." According to IDC, lessons can be learned from expansion in the U.S. market where many firms struggled to keep up with immense growth and competition.

"Companies that are first off the block can gain significant market share at this stage of rapid market growth and the biggest challenge could well come from start-ups rather than from traditional institutions," Bordoni warned. "To date, online brokers have competed on price, although as the market develops and competition intensifies, they will focus on offering value-added services such as research and information, either as a service offered directly or through partnership. Some are also likely to integrate other services, both financial and non-financial."

Online Trading in the Major European Countries:

Online trading activity in Sweden is growing very fast, with most of the activity coming principally from retail investors. The explosion in online trading has come on the coattails of a booming Swedish economy, strong gains on the Stockholm Stock Exchange and foreign markets, and a surge of interest in Swedish technology and Internet stocks. Over 10 brokerages in Sweden offer online trade services (and almost half of them are pure Internet brokerages).

Germany is predicted to have the largest growth as many Germans are used to using electronic channels like BTX over their PCs. Also, despite the usually conservative approach to financial investment, Germans have embraced discount brokering with surprising interest. As a result, the online broker sector in Germany is expected to see faster growth than elsewhere in Europe.

Because of the presence of the biggest and most competitive financial market in Europe, lower Internet infrastructure costs, and a less financial risk-averse population, the United Kingdom is the third largest online financial trading market in Europe. The U.K. online trading market, however, has been surprisingly slow to develop, although the largest number of European online brokers are situated in the United Kingdom. This may be partly due to early U.K. enthusiasm for Internet technology, helped by a common language with the United States and the infiltration by the large U.S. discount brokers, most of whom see the United Kingdom as the most popular point of entry into Europe.

Online trading is not new in France. Banks such as Cortal and Abax have been offering such services online via Minitel for several years, but the Internet has started to provide a faster platform with more transparency and greater interactivity while allowing brokers to cut costs and charges. The French online brokering market is dominated by Cortal in terms of clients as well as transaction volume.

There were about 20 online stockbrokers in Italy at the end of 1999. The stock market's local regulation is being developed to favor further presence of new online entrants. Trading online is offered mostly by banks that are moving slowly toward more value-added services.

Online brokering activity is growing in Switzerland, especially among wealthy private banking customer segments. The trend is confirmed for the next few months, despite cautious expectations by Swiss bankers who see the nature of the Internet running contrary to the traditions of private banking, which has emphasized individual attention in the core business of managing large sums of money. The pressure is felt in the Swiss market, but volumes have also increased in these types of services.

IDC's bulletin European Online Accounts Will Grow to 16.8 Million by 2003 (IDC #B22111) discusses whether online trading is shaking up the competitive arena of stock trading and whether customers will quickly adopt online trading. This bulletin is available to purchase from your local IDC office.

About IDC

IDC delivers dependable, relevant, and high-impact data and insight on information technology to help organizations make sound business and technology decisions. IDC forecasts worldwide IT markets and technology trends and analyzes IT products and vendors, using a combination of rigorous primary research and in-depth competitive analysis. IDC is committed to providing global research with local content through more than 500 analysts in 43 countries worldwide.

IDC's customers comprise the world's leading IT suppliers, IT organizations, and the financial community. Additional information can be found at http://www.idc.com.

IDC is a division of International Data Group, the world's leading IT media, research, and exposition company.