by Mark Johnston
As Spanish bank Santander overtakes HSBC’s branch network by buying 318 branches from RBS, taking it into fourth place in the bank branch league, a wave of new banking startups is set to sweep on to the UK’s high streets.The banking crisis has left many historic institutions in tatters whilst wiping other from history. This has created an opportunity for new players to enter the market. First Santander entered the market by buying up failed or struggling branch network which recently overtook HSBC’s network by aquiring a number of RBS branches. Now the new kid on the block is relatively small Metro bank.
Metro Bank is looking to provide a fresh approach to banking where others have failed to react to market trends. They will be opening on Sunday, 11am to 4pm unlike just about all banks and building societies in the United Kingdom. The will also provide toilets for customers to make visiting the bank a more pleasant experience as well as supporting dog owners by allowing pets in stores (they don’t call them branches) and providing water and a bone.
Stores will also offer coin counting machines that can be used by the general public despite who they bank with, safe deposit boxes will also be available for rent at £100 per year.
The former RBS managing director, Craig Donaldson, chief executive of the Metro bank said: “It is an open and friendly place to work with none of the stuffy rules of where I used to be,”
Many analysts are concerned that the new banks products are competitive enough and believe that the new bank with struggle to attract new customers. Current the bank has only opened two stores, both in London with a further 12 to be opened in the next two years although still in the greater London area. The Banks longer term plan is to open 200 stores across the country although plans of where these will be have not been released.
Some industry insiders think that the bank may just based on gimiks with little value to be had from their products. Catherine Hearnden, director of MyMortgageDirect, said: “Metro must perform almost perfectly in the rates it offers as well as its customer relations in order to get consumers to switch away from the traditional high street superpowers such as Barclays, NatWest and Lloyds TSB”
Ms Hearnden went on to say “What they have to do is offer absolutely brilliant customer services compared to what a lot of other banks are offering now,”
She highlighted that simply being open for longer hours may not be enough to persuade people who are settled with their current provider to go through the process of changing banks.
Metro Bank’s opening comes shortly after the Council of Mortgage Lenders reported earlier this month that the amount of money being loaned for house purchases increased in May in both month-on-month and year-on-year terms.
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