14 July 2000

IF (Intelligent Finance), the online and telephone bank due to be launched today by Britain's largest mortgage bank, Halifax, succumbed to a purported computer glitch causing the launch to be postponed at the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute.

Said Jim Spowart, IF chief executive: "I think it is better to disappoint customers than to anger them. We are going to try to fix it over the next few weeks and as soon as we have fixed it and tested it we will launch."

Halifax announced plans to invest £1.5 billion into IF and its sibling insurance operation Esure this spring when internet valuations were at their most euphoric. But many analysts now see IF and its rivals as extra costs for their parent banks. "The delay could be positive," opined one wit. "It means it is going to be a while before IF starts losing any more money."

[Mr Spowart may at this very moment be taking comfort from the immortal words of Rudyard Kipling’s 'If' …
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting … etc.

News source: Financial Times