Zurich Financial Services has invested £90 million on the launch of a new UK Internet bank, offering headline rates of interest on savings and current accounts.
The online bank - zurichbank.co.uk - has been launched in conjunction with the Bank of Scotland and will offer online access to accounts, loans and mortgages. It will be supported by 24x7 telephone support, and offer customers face-to-face advice about their accounts with Zurich Advice Network advisors.
The site also provides a further range of services, such as news feeds, share valuations, links to other Web sites and search engines.
The service was initially piloted to 1300 Zurich staff in autumn 2001. The banks aim to attract 300,000 new customers over a five-year period and double product cross sales over three years. The bank is tempting customers to switch account from rival banks with a guaranteed interest rate of 0.5% below the Bank of England base rate, which currently stands at four per cent.
Patrick O’Sullivan, chief executive general insurance and banking, Zurich, says the public launch of the site is a significant step in the bank's UK e-business strategy.
"Building banking capability through a profit sharing joint venture partnership with Bank of Scotland gives us proven expertise at a cost considerably less than acquiring an existing retail bank," he says. "The joint venture has improved the effectiveness of our banking service, reducing running costs and allowing us to bring Zurich branded mortgages - distributed face-to-face - and personal loans - distributed directly - to market simultaneously with the Zurich bank account."