Microsoft ‘will dominate financial services industry’

Microsoft will be a dominant player in the retail financial services industry within a decade, Mike Harris, deputy vice-president of internet bank egg, told the Finance Directors Forum yesterday.

Harris – who was also chief executive of First Direct, another banking pioneer – said the US software giant had the integrated technology in place to take on other financial giants: browsers, email and ‘electronic wallets’.

Addressing 300 financial directors (FDs) aboard the P&O cruise liner Arcadia, he predicted a “handful of global winners” would emerge in the financial services industry. He also said Microsoft’s position as a “de facto monopoly” would also work to its advantage in the financial services industry, as would its own abilities to target markets and deliver solutions.

“Monopolies can vertically integrate and nobody else can,” he added. “And by the way, their strategy is touched with genius.”

Harris said egg was already the busiest financial services website in Europe, and he warned financial directors that the ebusiness revolution was only just beginning.

“There are many more changes to come, driven by technological advances and consumer attitudes,” he said. “Everybody’s playing in the digital economy. It’s not just the dotcoms – it’s everybody.”

Harris condemned the Government’s role in failing to ensure that the UK is served with better internet access.

“It’s a disgrace where the UK is in broadband. It’s a public policy failure lasting ten to 15 years.”

Harris said egg, which floated last June, should become profitable by the fourth quarter of 2000 and said he expected the bank to grow globally.

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