Net dominance is a distant dream

Colin Dale, head of lending, Skipton When people talk about internet lending, it&#39s worth asking what their definition is. If they are referring to the fact application forms are available online, then the practise is widespread. If, however, they are talking about housebuyers being able to fill in a form online and press a button to send it to a lender who can deal with the request in an electronic format, then it is far less so.

Most people use the internet to gather information before making a purchase in the traditional way. Although buying online is becoming more popular, the feeling is that the more expensive and complicated the item involved, the more people stick to tried and tested channels.

In the UK, less than 10% of lending is conducted over the internet. Many lenders see online information as an additional channel rather than one that will eventually replace another. If anything, as the pressure is on to keep branches open but make them more profitable, lenders would appear to be driving for more face-to-face business. There&#39s no doubting that a more sophisticated breed of customer will emerge – one who wants to be able to apply for a loan at any time of day or night – but the time when this is the norm is a lot further away than some might think.