Zurich and S1 plan e-insurer

PLANS BY Allied Zurich, the Anglo-Swiss insurance giant to take on the high street banks by creating a pan-European financial services portal took a step forward yesterday with the news of an e-commerce tie- up with S1 Corporation, a leading US Internet banking technology group.

Zurich is buying a 10 per cent share of S1, a company quoted on the American Nasdaq exchange for $15m with an option to increase that stake to 15 per cent. The group which was formed from the merger of Zurich Financial Services and BAT Industries financial services businesses last year, plans to use S1's technology to create a combined branchless banking and insurance Internet offering in Europe.

The aim of Rolf Huppi, the Zurich chairman is to use the Internet to turn selling insurance through bank branches on its head by selling banking services and more traditional insurance products on-line.

Zurich already has an e-commerce joint venture with IBM and ChannelPoint.