Magazine article Marketing

Banking on E-Commerce

Magazine article Marketing

Banking on E-Commerce

Article excerpt

Halifax is investing heavily in electronic commerce, both to increase its service to its existing customers and to recruit new ones

Competition in the retail financial services market has never been so intense. "We are facing competition from new non-traditional competitors, such as banks, insurance companies, supermarkets, brokers, motor manufacturers and call centres," said Lord Stevenson, chairman of Halifax, at a conference organised by Microsoft and the Confederation of British Industry. "This is resulting in narrower margins and forcing industry consolidation. Flexibility and increased service access are therefore becoming critical to customer satisfaction, particularly with the development of telephone-based services and the emergence of the Internet as a financial services channel."

Halifax provides a wide range of financial services to its 21 million customers, including banking and savings accounts, mortgages, loans and share dealing. It has a well-established Internet presence through its halifax.co.uk and halifaxplc.co.uk sites, but the time was right to add electronic commerce.

With rising expectations and increased demand for information, its customers wanted the convenience of sorting out their finances at home at any time of the day or night. Halifax therefore built a single-registration website, www.halifax-online.co.uk. This allows customers to access all their personal accounts and to buy and sell shares.

"We quickly developed a cutting edge electronic commerce solution," said Lord Stevenson. "More importantly, we have built in scope for future rapid development, so that we can stay one step ahead of our competitors."

Halifax-Online provides customers with user-friendly access to manage their accounts and ShareExpress provides them with everything they need to make informed investment decisions, including online share dealing. Halifax also offers free Internet access to its customers, to make sure that anyone can access the service.

"Compared with traditional procedures, the technology behind this system significantly lowers administration costs and improves time-efficiency," said Lord Stevenson. "This cost-efficiency will attract new customers whilst significantly impacting competitors and reshaping the market. …

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