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Friday, July 23, 2010

A Straw In The Wind

Britain's truly lousy banking system (appalling service, arrogant treatment of customers, extortionate charges etc) has been ridiculed and criticised for years, without any apparent effect on its performance or attitude.

The only way that the hapless and long suffering customers will ever see an improvement, is for a new "customer focused" competitor to enter the market and shake things up.

The BBC note that straws in the wind, in the form of Project New Bank and others, may be about to start the ball rolling:

"Project New Bank, is reported to be preparing to bid for 600 branches which Lloyds is being forced to sell off as the price for accepting tax-payer aid during the 2008 banking crisis.

The US-based JC Flowers is in talks to take over the building society Kent Reliance in a bid to acquire a foothold into the UK market.

And on 29 July, a new venture called Metro Bank is due to open its first branch in Holborn, central London, before rolling out across the capital and, backers hope, the rest of the UK.

In a bid to take on the established players by focusing on consumers, branches of Metro Bank will be open from 0800 until 2000 and at weekends. Cashiers will not be shielded from the public by security screens, and managers hope that free services like coin-counting machines, toilets and biscuits for the dogs of passers-by will attract new customers through their doors.

We shall see.

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