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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
First-e bank to close in UK and Germany
First-e website
The European internet bank First-e is closing its operations in two out of the three countries where it operates.

The bank is to shut up shop in the UK and Germany at the beginning of October, while the service will be continued in France.

Customers will be offered the chance to transfer their money elsewhere.

First-e started up two years ago during the initial internet boom, offering competitive savings rates to attract customers.

German transfer

The bank operated from Ireland under a banking licence from the French bank Banque d'Escompte, employing 280 people in Dublin.

It has about 200,000 customers and one billion euros in deposits.

Customers in Germany are being offered the chance to transfer their money to DAB bank, while UK customers can use DAB's online broker Self-Trade.

Banque d'Escompte says the service will be continued in France.

Hopes ended

First-e launched in September 1999 during the heady days of the internet boom when it looked like internet-only banks would change the face of banking.

With low overheads, the thought was they would be able to offer far better rates of interest than ordinary High Street banks.

And the bank once hoped to become a global online bank through a merger with Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria and Terra Networks,

But the merger plans were shelved, and in recent months there had been repeated reports that Banque d'Escompte was trying to sell the business.

See also:

31 Jul 01 | Business
Halifax internet bank disappoints
22 Apr 01 | Business
Perils of online banking
07 Sep 01 | Working Lunch
First-in, first-out
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