By Reuters Health WriterNASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) – A growing number of consumers are using faxes and Internet-based services like Google’s Gmail to get their financial and medical records, according to research by financial services firm CitiGroup.
The growing use of faxes has prompted the company to study the business models and potential impact of digital files, the research said.
CitiGroup, which conducts research on consumer behavior and trends, said it was the first to provide such data on consumer financial records.
It found that the average customer uses more than one kind of financial record to get financial and health information, and that the volume of financial records used has increased to about 10 percent from 6 percent in the previous two years.
Financial firms, which rely on faxes for most of their business, are increasingly using Internet-to -fax (I-Flex) services, including Google’s G Suite, which offers financial records and accounts management software, as well as other financial tools.
The research found that digital files were used more by consumers than physical documents, but it did not have data on how often digital files are used or by what purpose.
It was the third study conducted by Citi in the past few months that has found that people are using digital files to get and store financial and other records, including medical and health records, the firm said.
Its latest study examined whether fax and Internet file use was increasing across the United States.
It surveyed 1,000 consumers in the U.S. in late July and early August and found that 25 percent of consumers used a digital file to get a financial record, compared with 11 percent of the same survey conducted last year.
It also found that 28 percent of households had digital files for health care.
The most common reason for using a digital document to get health or financial records was to pay for the cost of getting information about a medical condition or illness, it said.
The study also found consumers were increasingly using digital documents to store personal information, such as bank and credit card information.
The trend of people turning to digital files is driven by the rise in mobile phones, the number of smartphones and tablets, the ease of accessing information online and the rapid growth of cloud-based applications, Citi said.
“Financial institutions are investing more in digital files as their digital record storage and management capabilities are becoming more powerful, with more people accessing them as a way to store financial information, including health information and financial transactions,” Citi’s director of research, Jennifer O’Neill, said in a statement.
The rapid growth in file-based technology is “increasingly affecting how we interact with our financial records,” she added.
“The number of financial information transactions is expected to double by 2030, and the growth of digital file sharing has increased exponentially.”
The Citi study did not say how much digital files account for consumer financial transactions, or how many people are currently using them to get these records.
Digital files can store information such as addresses, Social Security numbers, birth dates, drivers licenses, addresses of employers and other personal information and can be shared with other users.
Financial services firms have been struggling to cope with the loss of traditional paper records, which have been replaced by electronic ones and the advent of cloud computing.
The Citalogica data center in Atlanta, Georgia, is seen in this January 26, 2017 file photo.
Citalogia, a data storage company, has been a major player in the financial services industry, and its data center is seen on a screen in this April 15, 2017, file photo in Atlanta.
Its financial records, many of which have become available on the Internet, are being digitized to improve accuracy and security.
Financial firm Equifax said in July that it plans to eliminate paper records for business purposes by 2020.
In May, U.K.-based data service provider EY said it planned to eliminate financial information from its platform by 2019.
(Reporting by Eric Tucker; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)