COLUMBUS, Ohio - Nationwide Financial Services Inc. has invested $15 million in an Internet company that sells services to small businesses.

The deal will let Nationwide distribute 401(k) and other retirement and insurance products to customers of Alpharetta, Ga.-based BrightLane.com Inc. This includes the small-business customers of Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union Corp., which has a $19.5 million investment in BrightLane and offers banking services through the site.

Nationwide is to begin distributing products through BrightLane in the fourth quarter.

Nationwide has courted the small-business retirement market, which observers say is untapped.

The deal makes Nationwide the exclusive provider of 401(k) and pension products through BrightLane, a Nationwide spokesman said. He declined to say how much business Nationwide expects to get from the alliance.

The spokesman said that Nationwide is looking at similar alliances with other Internet companies.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.