PRUDENTIAL’S DIRECT banking arm Egg, which has attracted £5 billion in investments and 500,000 new customers since its launch six months ago, announced a watershed decision that could [or should] send icy shivers down the spine of the burgeoning call centre industry: with immediate effect Egg would accept applications for new accounts only via the internet. Chief executive Mike Harris said the decision was influenced by the reduced running costs associated with an internet bank account - approximately four times less than its telephone banking equivalent- stemming Egg’s current losses of up to £170 million annually: 'The decision we were faced with was - do we continue to invest in telephone commerce and build a new call centre at a cost of £50 million, when everything's moving to the Internet? In three years we think it will be as ubiquitous as the telephone.' He also claimed that Egg will attract 2m new customers by 2004.