at its Web site.
The Chicago-based banking company is selling eAnnuity, which was created last year by AnnuityNet.com, a Leesburg, Va.-based unit of Lincoln National Life Insurance Co.
Glen Milesko, Bank One's annuity chief, said the offering is a first for a bank's on-line storefront. He warned that on-line annuity sales revenues will build more slowly than those of some other products.
"Variable annuities are more complicated," Mr. Milesko said. "We're not planning on selling a whole lot" to start.
On Thursday, Bank One made at least one sale -- Mr. Milesko said he planned to buy one on-line himself. Bank One still needs licensing approvals in some states, he said, but will soon offer the annuity across the country. AnnuityNet had the necessary product approvals, licensing, and service systems in place, Mr. Milesko added.
The eAnnuity product carries lower fees than traditional annuities because there are no broker commissions. Though total fees vary with investment choices, the general asset charge is 55 basis points, compared with the industry average of 115.
The product is intended for retirement and carries no death benefit or related charge. Purchases can be made by check or electronic fund transfer.
Sold at the "Annuity Center" in Bank One's Web site, eAnnuity eventually will be joined by other offerings, Mr. Milesko said. In particular, he wants to give customers an annuity they can build themselves. It would offer options to meet an individual's needs, he said.
All of this will take time, but getting annuities onto the bank's Web site allows for experimentation, Mr. Milesko said.
"We know ultimately it will be a very good distribution channel -- it's just a matter of evolution," he said.
Mr. Milesko compared on-line annuity sales to the introduction of proprietary annuities. Bank One was "certainly a couple of years" ahead of the market with proprietary annuities, he said, and "I'm not sure if this isn't the same situation."
The Annuity Center features educational pieces on the complicated fees and terminology of annuities. To explain the power of tax-free compounding, for instance, the site features a Street.com article about the Brooklyn Dodgers. Bought in 1950 for $700,000, the team was sold by the O'Malley family in 1998 for $350 million.
For the savviest investors, whom Mr. Milesko expects to be among the first customers, such examples may not be needed. But more patience will be required until other investors take to annuities on the Web, he said.
"Ultimately they may move in this direction," Mr. Milesko said. "We want to be there to serve our customers.