Electronic Data Systems Corp. is proposing to help insurance companies prepare for the vaunted era of financial services convergence.
The Plano, Tex.-based computer services powerhouse is promoting Internet-based banking software to help insurance companies with thrift charters in offering a broad range of on-line deposit and loan products.
EDS says it already has one large insurance company in its corner. It is phasing in an Internet banking operation one state at a time for the insurer, which for competitive reasons does not want its name disclosed, a spokesman said.
More than 20 insurers, including Allstate, Principal, Prudential, and State Farm, have thrift charters, permitting them to provide banking services, according to the Office of Thrift Supervision. Another 20 have applications pending.
EDS is tapping into a trend toward single providers' offering of all types of financial services. It said in a white paper that the self-service environment of the Internet is making customers less interested in the specific charter of their financial services provider.
Christopher Formant, global leader in the bank consulting group at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said many institutions are "working feverishly" toward providing one-stop shopping, though there is "no model to test yet."
EDS' Internet banking platform for insurers supports a range of banking and insurance products, along with cross-selling between them.
Booz-Allen & Hamilton recently concluded in a study that leading insurance companies trail banks and brokerages in on-line offerings.
With its software, systems integration, and consulting services, EDS is aiming to help insurers overcome their lack of technology and expertise in operating a bank, said Denise Pelham, director of banking marketing at EDS.
The company already offers an Internet insurance platform for banks. It has been installed by three banks in Europe, where "bancassurance"-the regulatory freedom to cross-sell insurance policies and banking services-is the norm.
EDS built an information system to help U.S. holding companies comply with rules against passing customer data between banking and insurance subsidiaries, Ms. Pelham said.
Among the insurers providing banking services is Principal Financial Group, the parent of Principal Life Insurance Co., which has been operating Principal Bank, an Internet-only bank in Des Moines. It has been operational for a year, using the system of Security First Technologies Corp.