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Online banking skyrockets, study says

Increase in phishing attacks doesn't keep bank customers from turning to the Web to manage accounts.

More than 22 million customers logged in to accounts at the top 10 U.S. banks during the first quarter, a 29 percent jump from the same period last year, according to a new study.

In the first quarter, about 4.6 million people used online bill-payment services offered by the country's top 10 banks. The use of these services rose 37 percent compared with the same period last year, researcher ComScore Networks said in its study released Thursday.

These consumers paid an average of 14 bills during the first three months of the year, with an average value of about $250. Altogether, they paid bills worth $17 billion.

ComScore attributed the growing acceptance of online banking to the growth of broadband access and to banks' marketing. Online banking and bill payment are among the Internet's fastest-growing applications.

At the same time, illegal access to accounts has also risen via malicious schemes like phishing attacks.

"Previous ComScore research has shown that consumer use of online bill payment is correlated with greater loyalty to a bank and higher account balances," Jim Larrison, vice president of the company's financial services unit, said in a statement. "These benefits, along with the significant cost savings that come with processing transactions online instead of on paper, have led top banks to offer their customers compelling incentives to use such services."