Domestic banks, lagging behind their American counterparts in the use of information technology, are stepping up their Internet banking operations and expanding services available to retail customers via the Net.

At the moment, the number of individual Web users remains at a low level -- 30,000 or 40,000 at even the most Net-conscious banks.

These figures are dwarfed by the number of Web banking accounts in the U.S. Wells Fargo, considered a front runner in Net banking, has 1.2 million Web users; Bank of America has 1 million; and Citibank has 400,000.