Misys seeks partner for Net venture

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The Independent Online
MISYS, THE acquisitive computer software specialist, is in talks with a number of high street companies over the launch of an Internet- based financial services venture.

Kevin Lomax, chairman, has approached several well-known names in the travel, retail and transport sectors with a view to setting up a "one- stop shop", offering a wide range of investment and savings products over the Internet.

Misys' plans will intensify the pressure on traditional branch-based banks and building societies to cut costs and move to more efficient ways of selling their products. Only last week, Barclays, the high street bank, shed 6,000 jobs in an attempt to cut costs and ward off competition from low-cost providers such as the Prudential's Egg bank and Standard Life.

Misys is believed to be looking at a joint venture with a large company with a very famous brand name to provide services ranging from life assurance to on-line share dealing.

Under the plans, drawn up with a leading management consultant, the computer company will provide the software for the Internet venture while its high- profile partner will lend a brand name to attract users to the site.

It is also possible that Misys' partner could earmark part of its high street branch network for advice or sale of financial services' products. No decision has yet been made on the partner for the service, but Misys is believed to have deliberately avoided talking to financial groups in order to safeguard the venture's independence.

The portal will act as a on-line broker, electronically linked to several providers. When users log on to the site and select the service they require, the Misys technology will select the best offer available.

The computer company already runs Screentrade, an Internet-based broker for home and motor insurance. Its software is also used to link a network of independent financial advisers.

However, Misys is believed to be keen to boost its offering with the inclusion of pensions, life insurance and share dealings.

The financial venture is the second attempt by Misys to enter the booming electronic commerce market. Last week, the company signed a strategic alliance with the US Internet healthcare specialist Healtheon. Under the deal, Healtheon will use Misys web software to distribute e-commerce products to more than 65,000 American doctors.

The service will enable doctors to use the Net to check important information on their patients, such as their medical insurance. The alliance is the first step towards the creation of an pharmaceutical portal on the web to tap the mushrooming demand of the American public for healthcare information.