Alliance & Leicester invests in IT as profits drop

Alliance & Leicester invests in IT as profits drop

Alliance & Leicester is reporting a significant uplift in online credit applications and sales through its redesigned retail banking Web site, according to figures released with the bank's 2001 financial results.

Sales of personal loans through the Web site were 71% higher in January 2002 than in January 2001, says A&L.

The bank says it is also seeing promising results from its new online application service for mortgage intermediaries, and its motoring Web site, both launched in 2001.

A&L's electronic mortgage application system, Isis, enables mortgage intermediaries to receive fully credit scored decisions online in 60 seconds. The system pre-populates relevant information so that intermediaries do not have to re-key details. It also allows mortgage intermediaries to track the progress of their customers’ applications on-line.

Since its launch in July 2001, the service has clocked up 5000 registrations from intermediaries. By the end of 2001 around 20% of intermediary applications were being received through this channel, and this grew further still in January 2002.

In October A&L launched ',' a Web site providing a one-stop shop for consumers interested in buying or selling cars. Customers can buy or sell a car online, get price quotes from dealers, and arrange the necessary finance. No figures are available for sales through this channel.

The bank says further technological changes within its mortgage and loan operations and to its online banking service will be implemented this year. A&L says it is on schedule to introduce a new mortgage platform from Unisys by the end of the year. The bank is also working on the implementation of a middleware component to link different product systems to a common customer interface, with the aim of improving online services for current and savings account customers. Also in the pipeline is a virtual contact centre integrating telephone and Internet channels to improve customer service and reduce costs, says A&L.

Alliance & Leicester is blaming heavy investment in its business for an 11% fall in 2001 profits, to £396 million. The bank, which demutualised from a building society in 1997, loses its five-year protection from takeover in April, and would likely welcome a friendly approach as it lacks scale to compete in the UK markets on its own.

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