Personal Finance: Net's egg is ready to hatch

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The Independent Online
THE Prudential's phone and internet bank, egg, has been a victim of its own success: would-be savers may have to wait up to 28 days for their account, writes Stephen Pritchard.

Egg sees the net as fundamental to its development. The established banks, building societies and lenders have to create net sites to work with their existing products. Egg believes it can offer better value by designing products specifically for sale over the phone or via the net.

The egg team hopes to have a current account and stock market investment scheme ready soon. We may also see net-only products, which may well be cheaper or pay higher interest rates than the phone versions, reflecting the lower costs to the Pru.

Egg's web site is well designed, fast to load, and avoids complex colour pictures in favour of black and white photography. The basics are there: the company provides comparisons with its rivals' savings and loan rates, and the data is supplied by the independent publishers, Moneyfacts. The account application forms are online, althoughfor now you still have to use the post to open an account. There is even a special section explaining the reasons for egg's problems and what the company is doing to resolve them.

A good website has to offer more than just brochures and application forms, and egg has taken steps in the right direction. According to Peter Marsden, egg's IT director, the company wants to create an on-line community of egg customers.

The site also provides financial news and features, supplied by Moneyworld, an independent web publisher. The choice of articles is not always obvious, and some appear dated although the news section, covering stories such as interest rates and house prices, is useful.

Some of the best information on egg's site comes in the form of its guides. Topics include buying a home, planning for school and university fees.

Perhaps the biggest drawback for net users is that you need Adobe Acrobat Reader, a non-standard piece of software, to access the guides.

egg: www.egg.com

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