KBC to buck trend and open new branches
AMID all the hullabaloo created by bankers appearing before the Dail Finance Committee to talk about the mortgage mess, there is some good banking news. KBC Bank chief John Reynolds has launched a new current account and plans to open eight new branches. The Punt has noted that the Belgian-owned bank is planning to eventually capture 10pc of the current account market here. This comes as towns around the country have lost around 240 branches with closures from existing players.
So KBC and Mr Reynolds are bucking the trend by opening branches – the first such expansion here in seven years.
The bank also eased its lending criteria and has cut mortgage rates for home buyers.
It comes after this newspaper revealed that South African operation Investec is planning to get into the mortgage market.
And Permanent TSB is attempting to pick off current account customers from AIB and Bank of Ireland with a low-priced offering for day-to-day banking.
Banking analysts say that the increased competition will be a worry for the two "pillar" banks.
Eamonn Hughes of Goodbody reckons some bankers will now be worried about what he calls "incremental competition" in the banking market.
The rest of us can rejoice.