The U.K. banking company Woolwich and the French insurance giant AXA Group are joining forces to provide British customers with online banking, insurance, and investment products.
The "AXA Open Plan from the Woolwich" service will combine Woolwich's Open Plan banking services - including bank accounts, credit cards, and lending products -- with investment and insurance products provided by AXA.
The service is to be introduced around yearend, when AXA will launch an Internet portal for it.
AXA Sun Life will provide savings and investment products, while AXA Insurance and PPP Health Care will supply general and health insurance services. DLJdirect, whose parent company, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Inc., is majority owned by AXA, will provide the stock trading capability.
All of a customer's accounts will appear on a single monthly statement, with seamless links between the two products, the company said. For example, customers would be able to pay their AXA insurance premiums directly from their Woolwich accounts, said Stuart Prosser, a spokesman for AXA's U.K. operation.
In addition, the service will be made available through ATMs and a call center. The companies also plan to make the service accessible to customers via Wireless Application Protocol-enabled phones and interactive digital television.
Woolwich customers currently can use the Open Plan program to decrease mortgage payments by offsetting their savings and checking accounts against their debt. Borrowers pay interest only on the difference between the amount they borrowed and the amount they have in other accounts.
The banking company, which launched the mortgage program in June, said it is ahead of pace to sign up 500,000 customers, its goal, in the program's first year.
Mr. Prosser said it is too early to predict how many customers would sign up for the combined service, but he said AXA has about eight million customers in the United Kingdom.
Though this service would be geared toward British customers, he said, "there are a number of other AXA initiatives similar to this going on around the world." However, an AXA Group spokesman in Paris said the company does not plan to expand its online banking alliances outside the U.K.
AXA's U.S. subsidiaries include AXA Financial, formerly known as Equitable Cos.
"This really is a groundbreaking agreement - two financial institutions working together to offer their customers an integrated financial package," said Woolwich group chief executive John Stewart. "It demonstrates the open nature of the Open Plan technology, which gives us the ability to offer Open Plan to customers of other financial institutions, or to offer others' products to our own customers."