Bank of Ireland retreats from Internet-only model

Bank of Ireland retreats from Internet-only model

Bank of Ireland has pulled the plug on its Isle of Man-based Internet-only banking operation, Fsharp, and merged it with its international offshore unit.

Fsharp was initially conceived as a stand-alone Internet bank offering remote banking services to UK and Irish expatriates. But after two years of operation Fsharp had attracted barely 2000 customers, less than half the numbers projected at launch. It will now be merged with Bank of Ireland's other offshore operations to form Bank of Ireland Fsharp.

Customers will be able to access Bank of Ireland Fsharp via the Internet, telephone, post and personal banking, says the bank. The merger will provide customers with services previously available independently from Fsharp and Bank of Ireland International. These include debit and credit cards, mortgages and loans, Internet banking, client relationship managers for those with deposits in excess of £50,000, and a currency manager facility enabling online foreign exchange with live rates and no commission charges.

New products in the pipeline include a funds protected product, to be launched in early January, giving customers the opportunity to participate in the potential growth of five major funds, over a five-year period. The provision of online facilities to corporate service providers is also scheduled to be rolled out in the New Year.

The new offshore operation will be based in the Isle of Man and will be headed by managing director Roly Alden.

The withdrawl marks the latest in a series of high profile retreats from the Internet-only banking model, including the recent closure of pioneering Dublin-based operation First-e.

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