Web begins to demonstrate value to business

ATLANTA (Reuter) -- Computer industry executives say the World Wide Web is only now beginning to demonstrate its value as a channel for sales and customer service.

The amount of business transacted across the Internet is expected to reach $2 billion this year, double the amount seen in 1996, according to executives attending the Internet Commerce Expo here this week.

"That's not much when you realize it's a day's worth of volume for Visa and MasterCard," said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, the Cuban-born general manager of International Business Machines Corp.'s Internet Division.

Optimists believe Web-based business dealings could reach the $1 trillion mark by the year 2010, as more companies and their customers gain confidence about the security of online transactions.

Wells Fargo and Co., which claims to have the biggest Internet banking operation, says its Web site picks up 20,000 new online customers every two weeks.

In addition to incremental revenues, companies that have aggressively pushed the Internet as a channel for doing business report tremendous savings and return on investment.