Sir: Your recent articles on the Royal Bank of Scotland and Nationwide offering Internet services to their customers (22 January and 3 February) highlight one of the most dramatic changes taking place in the financial services sector - electronic commerce.
IBM research to be published shortly, shows that 72 per cent of insurance executives interviewed believed that electronic commerce will have the most profound impact on reshaping the insurance industry.
Another IBM research project carried out last year, again with insurance executives, highlighted a scenario whereby consumers will actively identify, acquire and manage their portfolios of risk and capital accumulation needs - a simple task in a world where a growing number of access points such as the Internet means everyone is "wired". Increasingly sophisticated consumers will send out requests for coverage over a growing number of access points such as interactive TV and the Internet. They will piece together the necessary product or service components from global providers.
Sadly, there are still many financial service companies who, despite having Web sites, do not have the adequate strategy to maximise opportunities via the Internet and time is running out for them fast. There are currently around 50 million worldwide users of the Internet and it is estimated that this will rise to 1.5 billion by 2010.
Distribution Solutions Manager
IBM Insurance Europe