The UK is an "online banking laggard", according to research firm Forrester. Forrester said the 31 percent of British adults who bank online is lower than the proportion of Germans doing so and will stay that way, according to its five-year forecast.

Fifteen million people currently bank online in the UK, and this number would see "slow" growth to 22 million by 2012, Forrester said. The estimations were based on current internet use by 4,226 UK consumers.

Benjamin Ensor, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said: "By international standards, the UK is an online banking laggard." He added that the proportion of adults who banked online in the UK equalled that of France, which was surprising given that France has lower internet usage, he said.

"The UK also has a relatively large number of quitters," Ensor continued, "with about two million people saying that they used to use online banking but have given up".

But the research company said that, despite this, a gradual rise in web users' confidence in online banking, combined with a limited promotional activity by the banks, would push online banking numbers up.