Growing numbers of brokers are embracing the internet revolution, but many have serious concerns over its cost and security for financial transactions, an independent survey of Biba members finds.

Three-quarters of Biba brokers already have, or are developing, a website including, two-thirds of brokerages with fewer than 15 staff.

But the survey discovered only a minority of websites are fully-interactive, while two-thirds are capable of only providing customer information.

Biba spokeswoman Jennifer Weller said: "The survey's results are positive, but they show a lot of work needs to be done to bring forward brokers' ecommerce development. Biba intends to facilitate this."

The situation is rapidly changing however, as more than half of the web sites being developed are said to be customer-interactive, while a quarter are designed to give quotes on line.

Furthermore, the survey found:

  • Around half of Biba members plan to develop an online connection for insurers, and online client servicing is an objective for one-third.

  • Most brokers expect to turn to their software house for new ecommerce facilities, followed by a web design company, in-house specialist or Biba itself.

  • Around 80% of brokers believe Biba should at least offer guidance in ecommerce matters, although half as many thought Biba should set up online trading for brokers.

    The survey found email was used by only one-third of brokers, with most using it for internal communication purposes. Many smaller brokers, are hardly using email.

    More than 80% of brokers said they expect ecommerce to have at least a moderate impact on their businesses in the next two years.

    An equal number, 80%, have some heartfelt concerns about the effects of ecommerce, most notably its cost.

    Smaller brokers are also worried by their own lack of knowledge of ecommerce, while payment security is a concern for larger brokers.

    Only a very small proportion of brokers relied entirely on full cycle EDI technology, twice as many motor brokers than household intermediaries.

    Moreover, 60% of Biba members involved in commercial business said they did not intend to become full cycle brokers.

    The survey by independent consultancy, Elaine Bowyer Research, attracted responses from more than 31% of Biba's membership, with significant replies from smaller brokers employing fewer than 15 staff.

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