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Metro Bank – how to enter a market and make a difference

As the first new bank in the UK in 100 years, Metro Bank has very stiff and entrenched competitors, but they are doing a lot right and it will be fantastic to see them succeed, not least because it might encourage other new entrants to the banking sector.

Using a model that worked in the US, Metro Bank sets out to be a little different from the get-go. Opening seven days a week, designing their premises to be customer-friendly, designing their staff to be customer-friendly, printing debit cards on the premises – none of this is gimmicky, it’s all for real and it’s working.

Given the fragile nature of the UK banking scene, it’s encouraging to know two things about Metro Bank:

  • they had to be absolutely solid as a business in order to get a banking licence from the FSA
  • they don’t borrow from the wholesale markets to increase their lending potential

In short, they are a return to traditional, simple banking with an extra dash of customer service that recognises that customers have a choice.

The Metro Bank service extends to personal banking and to business banking. The business banking director that I met was a joy to meet and very evidently passionate about meeting local companies and learning about them.

He was equally passionate about the bank and certainly not the Business Bank Manager from Central Casting that we see all too often. And then don’t see at all.

It’s great to see a new business come along and take on the entrenched players in an established market. Fascinating to see how they create a point of difference.

Long may Metro Bank thrive and hopefully they will pave the way for other new entrants because what UK banking needs more than anything is a strong dose of competition in the home market.