Switzerland's Credit Suisse and UBS financial groups are leading Europe's online retail banking war, according to a well known independent Internet research firm.
In a study published on Wednesday, Forrester Research, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, ranked the French Banque Directe and BNP Paribas in third and fourth positions.
"The Swiss banks shine through with comprehensive, integrated offerings," said Brian Gross, an analyst at Forrester's European headquarters in Amsterdam.
"Consistently integrating a gamut of products and services with useful tools like portfolio analysers, these sites come closest to what it will take to win the battle for customers in Europe's online banking war," he added.
Gross said that online banking had become cut-throat. "This is nothing less than a war for survival. Even though Europe's top 25 banks are each pouring hundred of millions of euros into eCommerce, not all of them will convert their offline strength into online strength," he commented.
Forrester claims that many of Europe's banks will not succeed in competing with financial portals, brokerages and insurers to become what it calls "attractors" - destination sites that manage the overall financial needs of their customers.
It adds that in order to retain consumers, banks must offer integrated easy-to-use sites that are rich in content and have powerful financial planning tools.
In its study, Forrester rated the main retail Web sites of Europe's top 25 banks plus their spin-offs, as well as six smaller Web leaders, ranking a total of 40 individual Web-based operations.
swissinfo with agencies