Lloyds sells again, Virgin Money throws hat in ring

Business banking news review: week ending 19 Dec 2013

The news has been all current accounts all the time this week, as it came to light that Lloyds TSB will start selling again and Virgin Money is launching.

It’s been a while since Lloyds TSB has sold fee-paying current accounts, but the announcement this week that they will once more be available in branch just one year after a marketing row has raised more than a few eyebrows in the industry.

Just a few days after Lloyds was slapped with a £28 million fine for pushing its staff to sell products or be sacked, the group has confirmed that their £9.95 a month Silver package account and £17 a month platinum account will be going back on sale shortly. It’s been a year since Lloyds pulled the sale of these accounts anywhere but online, but now apparently the bank has thought better of that decision and is now once more going to be offering them to customers.

Honestly I don’t know what to think of this. I suppose it’s just a wait-and-see kind of thing, but if you ask me there’s going to be a lot of competition for Lloyds in this market – especially n ow that Virgin Money is set to launch its own current account offering.

The financial arm of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin conglomerate says that it could be as early as spring of next year that the current accounts would be available, the first of which will be a stripped-down basic account that won’t have any overdraft facility but will include a debit card. There are more advanced offerings in the works, but this seems like an excellent starting point to me – especially since Virgin Money already offers many other financial products and services like mortgages, credit cards, loans, and savings accounts.

Honestly I’m all for new blood entering the marketplace. High street banks are so stuffy and backwards sometimes that it would be nice to see things shaken up! I can only hope that Virgin Money is incredibly successful and forces Lloyds and the rest of the Old Guard to change their ways in order to remain competitive. I doubt that will happen – these High Street institutions are so set in their ways, after all – but a man can dream, can’t he?

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