Egg rolls on to the high street

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The Independent Online

Egg, the internet bank, is about to turn the financial services market on its head again - by investing in bricks and mortar.

Egg, the internet bank, is about to turn the financial services market on its head again - by investing in bricks and mortar.

The company has already surprised the market this week by going ahead with its £1.2bn float, despite the collapse in the technology, media and telecoms sector. Now it is about to shock everyone by investing in high street outlets and cashpoint machines.

Up until now, Egg, which was formed two years ago by Prudential Corporation, has eschewed a physical presence, preferring to handle transactions over the internet. Even the phone is considered bad form by the bank, which charges customers if they are so e-unfriendly as to not want to transact over the internet. Depositors are allowed to withdraw cash from Link machines - but only six times a year or else they incur large penalties.

Now that Egg wants to offer a current account and a more flexible banking service, it has realised that its customers might need something more earthly than the internet.

Robert Duvall, Egg's marketing director, told the Independent on Sunday that Egg "would like access to some sort of physical presence on the high street". He said that Egg would not have bank branches but "something more clever and cost effective" such as cash machines or kiosks in shops, supermarkets or petrol stations.

Chris Harvey, of financial services analysts The Capital Market Company, said that the deregulation of the cash machine network, which is widely expected to occur in the next few months, will provide many opportunities for Egg to move into that market.

The row over charges for using cash machines, an initiative led by Barclays, has resulted in a row with the Government, which has threatened to take action to cut excessive bank charges.

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