The Bank of East Asia (BEA) will launch six insurance products on Friday as the first step in its plan to develop its bancassurance business. Deputy chief executive Chan Kay-cheung said bancassurance - in which banks use their branch networks to sell insurance products - would be a major development plan within the next year. The bank would aim to have about 20 insurance products in the market under its brand name by next year, Mr Chan said. It had invested about HK$10 million on a computer system to administer its insurance business. 'Bancassurance has proven to be very successful in Europe and the United States. 'It has been a worldwide trend for banks to offer a wide range of financial products besides traditional banking services,' Mr Chan said. 'Nowadays, a bank's clients going to a bank branch do not only want to deposit money, but they would also like to buy insurance policies, to trade securities, and to handle their pension funds.' BEA would like to become a one-stop financial institution by expanding its insurance, pension and fund-management businesses. Mr Chan said the bank would this week introduce branded insurance products. This would be the first time BEA has used its 108 branches to sell insurance. The bank will launch two life products - a mortgage-linked life insurance which would pay off a mortgage should the policy holder die, and a traditional life-insurance product which has a 10-year savings plan feature. It will also launch four general insurance products, comprising domestic-helper insurance, house-content protection, travel insurance, and medical insurance. Mr Chan said BEA originally entered the insurance business through two 50:50 joint ventures - one with life insurer East Asia Aetna Insurance and the other with general insurer Blue Cross (Asia-Pacific) Insurance. US-based Aetna Group was the partner in both joint ventures. At the end of last year, the bank sold its stakes in East Asia Aetna to Aetna, while at the same time it bought the other 50 per cent of Blue Cross (Asia-Pacific) it did not own from Aetna. This ended the bank's exposure in the life-insurance market, but allowed it to have full control of Blue Cross, which is Hong Kong's largest medical-insurance provider. Mr Chan said Blue Cross would underwrite the risks of BEA's insurance products, while at the same time continuing to sell its own products. Besides using its 108 branches for marketing the products, the bank would also sell them through the Internet, he said. Meanwhile, BEA is also a Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) provider. Mr Chan said many of the bank's corporate clients had signed up for its MPF plans. He expects the bank can achieve its targeted share of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of the MPF market. It has trained about 800 people to service its MPF clients. Mr Chan said the plan was for each branch to have at least three to five staff with the ability to handle MPF business. The bank saw no need to cut the prices on its MPF products as its charge of about 1.55 per cent was in line with the market average.