RealTime IT News

Halifax Builds Net Banking Services

UK bank Halifax has lept into several up-and-coming Internet trends, launching an online brokerage, a free ISP service, and online banking all in the same week.

The bank claims that its Halifax ShareXpress is offering the most competitively priced online trading service in the UK market, at a flat fee of £5 ($8) until January 2000. After January, the rate will be £12.50 for trades up to £2,500 and £22.50 for trades up to £60,000.

Market information will also be provided free of charge for the Financial Times Stock Exchange, Dow Jones, Nikkei and Hang Seng indices.

The Halifax Online Banking service includes basic account information, transfers and online bill payments. Users can apply online for mortgages, loans and insurance.

Halifax is also offering its customers free Internet access in conjunction with British Telecom and the Microsoft Network.

Each of the bank's new interest has proven a hot area of the UK's Internet market over the last several months.

Several American brokerages have hopped on the UK online trading bandwagon, including DLJDirect (DIR), E*TRADE (EGRP), Charles Schwab (SCH).

Paribas' Cortal last month launched a pan-European online brokerage, e-cortal.

Halifax expects one in three trades will be conducted over the Internet within 18 months.

The online banking aspect of Halifax's new Internet strategy is the third to be launched in the UK in the last month, following the launch of The Co-operative Bank's smile.co.uk and

Dublin-based enba's first-e, which is currently operating under the banking license of Banque d'Escompte.

Free ISP trendsetter FreeServe (FREE) may prove Halifax's greatest competition, having recently launched its own online brokerage and insurance services in cooperation with GlobalNetFinancial.