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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — E-statement adoption continues to grow, with younger consumers particularly likely to say “no” to paper statements because of environmental considerations.That’s part of the takeaway from Forrester Research’s 2008 North American Technographics Financial Services survey taken online among 5,000 consumers in the United States and Canada in May.The survey found that financial service e-statement adoption had risen 11% over the past year, accounting for more than half of all statements processed. This stands as a sharp contrast to the 40% figure recorded by a similar study back in 2006.In fact, 55% of those surveyed in second-quarter 2008 by Forrester’s North American Technographics Financial Services online survey indicated they receive online versus paper statements for their banking, savings and/or credit cards accounts.“Nearly one in three online consumers find little use for any statement-all the information they need is available online,” said Emmett Higdon, the Forrester Research analyst who authored a new report on the findings.These figures point to the beginning signs of significant potential return on investment in e-statements for credit unions and other financial institutions, the report said.Electronic statements also encourage more active links to customer and member relationship endeavors, including selling of additional banking services.For customers, e-statements offer much-needed, real-time access and integration for their Web 2.0, mobile-powered accounts. Higdon found that only 30% of customers held steadfast to their paper billing statement, with the remainder favoring either a hybrid (paper and paperless) or electronic-only notification method.Environmental impact-not dollars and cents nor convenience-emerged as the top driver in e-statement adoption. For younger age brackets, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed by Forrester cited green benefits as the primary cause for electronic-based preference.Generation X (59%) and Y (59%) users were most apt to adopt some methods of e-statement for their services. Baby boomers and seniors, however, were a different breed.“In contrast [to Gen Y and X,] 62% of online seniors still receive only a paper statement-little changed from the 67% reported in 2005,” Higdon said.E-holdouts cited a desire for paper copies or privacy fears as primary obstacles for medium switch or augmentation. Echoing the above and as customers got older, these fears grew in tandem.Product type had little to no effect on perceptions about e-statements, Higdon said. Mortgages, student loans, credit card statements and savings accounts all produced similar statement notification trends based on age. Paper format and privacy consistently ranked highest for all of these products as reason to avoid or delay adoption of e-statements.Some consumer education might alleviate those concerns.“User who fear they may lose statement information if their computer crashes may not be aware that most e-statements are stored online, not on the user’s PC. Other users may be unaware that PDF files can be printed and that the printed copy is accepted for most record keeping or tax-related needs,” Higdon said, adding that some financial institutions now spell these points out clearly in their e-statements overview.Plus, many of the holdouts can be bought, the Forrester researcher found.For as little as a $5 incentive, Higdon found that even holdouts were willing to go paperless.“Customers have shown that they are ready to abandon paper. They just need a push,” he said.–[email protected]

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