The internet could leave many existing electronic data transfer tools obsolete, according to Max Carruthers, chief executive of Eastgate's general insurance division.

Speaking at the launch of his company's new e-trading solution, Consumer Direct, Carruthers said: "Some of these tools will die off, because of broker systems moving towards browser-based technologies.

"Data exchange tools are going to come under serious challenge from this type of technology."

Carruthers said that "Polaris front end" software would be particularly vulnerable. Many of the broker-supporting software houses, including Policy Master, CSC, NMT and, to a lesser extent, Misys, all have quotation systems which sit on top of Polaris.

Eastgate/Cap Gemini have yet to confirm which rating engine will be used on their system, although they claim it will be possible to integrate according to a user's wishes.

However, Carruthers voiced doubts about whether the Polaris rating engine will suit requirements.

Consumer Direct, aims to enable every consumer/insurer or consumer/broker transaction to be carried out.

That includes back office, claims, quotations, self-administration by customers of their policy details, and a number of other options.

"This is technology that can support hundreds of thousands of hits," said Carruthers. "But for brokers to receive hundreds of thousands of hits, they will need a lot of hardware.

"This is being targeted at bigger high street broking chains, or brokers that handle volumes in the hundreds of thousands."

However, Carruthers also said that some smaller brokers could benefit from the technology if their insurers sponsored them to use it.

It is anticipated that the first firm could be using the technology at the beginning of next year.