Lloyds TSB launches Telewest tie-in

Lloyds TSB is launching an iTV banking service, following the self-proclaimed success of its Internet venture in the UK. But not everyone agrees with the multi-platform approach.

Lloyds TSB will make its first foray onto interactive TV (iTV) this week, with a service available in 400,000 Telewest households.

The new channel, designed by Grey Interactive TV (GiTV), offers users access to a number of online banking services, such as viewing account balances and statements, paying bills and transferring money between accounts.

There are also links to Lloyds’ insurance arm, Insuredirect; to Cheltenham & Gloucester’s interactive services; and to Lloyds TSB’s partners such as Auto Trader, Lonely Planet and Reallymoving.com.

Lloyds TSB head of e-marketing Andreas Wasmuht says the iTV venture will “provide customers with another way of dealing with their finances from the comfort of their own living room. This has helped us to create a multi-channel service for our customers and represents an addition to Lloydtsb.com.”

The service will initially be advertised only on Telewest and in Zap, its subscriber magazine.

Lloyds TSB was one of the first high street banks to set up a website, in November 1998. It now claims to have 1.4 million online customers and has been rated for the past four months as the most visited financial services website in the UK by Jupiter MMXI. Lloydstsb.com recently signed a six-month sponsorship deal with Freeserve.

Lloyds’ enthusiasm for new platforms is not, however, likely to impress Internet research company Forrester. It recently issued a report concluding that banks should focus on providing more services through PCs since “new platforms don’t measure up for online banking”.

Interactive TV, warns Forrester, will be “prohibitively expensive” for many smaller players in the banking market. Larger companies that do offer it “should focus their efforts on customers not using the Web.”

Forrester continues: “Banks must use iTV advertising for building their brands and product launches, and they should join retailers to create content for iTV, offering education on financial services. iTV sites must still refer multi-device customers to the PC for financial management and advice.”

By 2005, PC-based services will dominate UK retail banking, says Forrester, offering customers financial management and advice alongside electronic transactions. As banking moves onto the Web, “banks must focus their branches on sales and advice, while they familiarise customers with online banking kiosks.”

Plans for a UK launch of Evolvebank.com, an Internet-only bank which Lloyds launched in Spain last year, have been scrapped. The UK operation has effectively been licensed to Centrica, which recently took a stake and announced it would be launching the bank under its Goldfish brand.

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