Halifax's IF fails to launch on internet

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The Independent Online

If, the much-delayed branchless banking arm of the Halifax, goes live today - but a date for the launch of its internet arm has not yet been set.

If, the much-delayed branchless banking arm of the Halifax, goes live today - but a date for the launch of its internet arm has not yet been set.

IF, which stands for Intelligent Finance, said customers can open an account over the telephone from this morning. But yesterday it refused to give a timescale for when customers would be able to apply over the internet.

Previously the bank said the internet option would be made available two weeks after the telephone service started.

IF, which has Fat Boy Slim's anthem 'Right Here, Right Now' as its theme tune, called off its first launch date of 14 July less than 24 hours before it was due to take place. It then missed a second target to go live by the end of August.

The launch was delayed to test the system to avoid crashes from over-subscription or unacceptably long waiting times, the bank said. A few hundred staff have now opened accounts to check that it is working.

The branchless bank, which has received £150m of investment from Halifax, yesterday admitted that its delays will have lost some customers.

A spokeswoman said: "There will have been some people who could not take out a mortgage with us because they had to get one by a certain point. But we hope our customers will appreciate the fact that we have been thoroughly testing the system."

IF said it has the capacity to open 15,000 new accounts a day over the telephone. Jim Spowart, chief executive of IF, said the bank will attract 500,000 new customers within the first 12 months.

The spokeswoman said: "We have learn our lesson about setting dates for launches. The internet part will go live after we access the take-up through the call centre."

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