First new bank in UK for 100 years opens doors
Metro Bank aiming to have 200 branches in next decade
Published 30/07/2010 | 05:00
THE opening yesterday in Britain of the first bank in more than 100 years is in stark contrast to the situation in this country where one retail bank has closed, another is due to close, and other banks are closing branches.
Additionally, last year the First Active brand disappeared as the bank closed down and its customers transferred to Ulster Bank.
But Metro Bank opened its doors to customers yesterday -- hoping to break into a sector whose reputation has been damaged by the credit crisis.
A steady stream of customers were greeted with an array of gimmicks. Not only does the bank welcome dogs, it provided them with free biscuits and offered their owners breakfast.
"We're in the business of turning customers into fans," American billionaire and Metro Bank co-founder Vernon Hill said, accompanied by his own pet dog Duffy.
Metro Bank aims to have more than 200 branches across greater London over the next decade.
It also hopes to end up with a business evenly split between retail and commercial banking, offering a range of services including a Metro Bank-branded credit card.
The new bank plans to open seven days a week, opening from 8am to 8pm on week days, and claims new customers will be able to open an account in just 15 minutes. It is one of several entrants planning to enter the UK market.
Here, Halifax closed its 44 branches in June. The bank had attempted to revolutionise banking here by opening on Saturdays, introducing tracker mortgages and becoming one of the first banks to pay interest on current accounts. T
he banking sector suffered a further blow when Postbank, which operates in 1,000 post offices, said it was closing by the end of the year.
An Post announced the closure of the bank, which was a joint venture with French lender BNP Paribas. Customers have been given until the end of the summer to close savings and current accounts.
National Irish Bank (NIB) is closing 25 of its 58 branches, while there are fears that building societies EBS and Irish Nationwide will also close branches. NIB is also no longer taking cash at its branches.
It has agreed a deal with An Post to provide cash services at more than 1,200 post offices as the bank moves to a cashless system across its branch network.