RealTime IT News

ebookers.com Adds Financial Services

[London, ENGLAND] European travel site ebookers.com surprised the Internet industry Wednesday by announcing its diversification into financial services in a deal with moneygator.com.

Unlike many e-commerce sites, ebookers.com has relatively high-spending customers who pay an average of US $650 per transaction. The rationale behind the latest move is to offer these customers the chance to shop and compare for loans, credit cards and mortgages from leading brands like Barclays, Northern Rock, and Diners Club.

Access to the brands is being provided by U.K. financial services aggregator, moneygator.com, which launched its own site in April this year. Moneygator has over 35 lenders participating on its site, including Woolwich, Egg, Nationwide, Scottish Widows, Yorkshire, and Halifax -- all familiar names in the U.K.

Dinesh Dhamija, chief executive of ebookers.com, spoke of the company's "large and growing customer base" which is underpinned by around 0.7 million registered users.

"Although travel remains our dedicated focus, it makes sense to maximize the value of the customers that our travel business gives us, through the considered development of low-risk and profitable revenue streams in partnership with quality third parties," said Dhamija.

Dhamija said the financial services site will give customers the same "shop and compare" format they are used to on the ebookers travel site.

Chief Financial Officer Navneet Bali said the strength of this type of partnership is that it leverages ebookers.com's high brand awareness and high value customer base, yet at minimal risk.

"Initially, it is likely to result in modest, yet profitable revenue streams, which we intend to develop and widen in the future," said Bali.

The online spin-off from travel agency Flightbookers plc, ebookers.com operates in eleven European countries and has a listing on the Neuer Markt in Germany as well as the Nasdaq. It plans to extend its financial offerings to countries outside the U.K. using what it calls "similar outsourcing arrangements."