Some 29.5 million European customers will access financial services through the internet, TV and mobile phones by 2004, according to the Protect & Survive report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report warns that regulation is needed for financial services delivery through ecommerce. Otherwise opportunities for innovation, competition and growth could be stifled.

The report highlights the importance of consumer education in developing safeguards for the online age, with a commitment for regulators to adopt and adapt to new technology. It also examines how businesses and regulators can work together.

Chairman and partner of PWC John Tattersall said: “The challenge for regulators and financial organisations is to provide a global standard creating safety and security for on-line financial services transactions.

“Domestic markets offer investors assurances that their transactions are covered by national, legal and private sector consumer protection. But in the global marketplace, such protection cannot be taken for granted.”

The report finds that the European Commission's ecommerce directive shows signs of progress in developing global standards for online financial services – though continued uncertainty could discourage investment.