Metro Bank continues spread from Greater London

Business banking news review: week ending 22 Nov 2012

Big news this week in the retail banking world is that new High Street upstart Metro Bank is continuing its spread out from its Greater London roots.

The self-styled ‘revolutionary’ bank will be opening its newest branch this Friday, its thirteenth in Reading, with a weekend of entertainment including stilt walkers, popcorn, and music. Metro Bank has been challenging high street banks since 2010, when it opened up its initial branches in London – the first time in a century that major UK bank have had to deal with a new competitor.

Metro focuses on customer service, with a particular emphasis on consumer convenience. Metro Bank branches stay open weekends, evenings, and even select bank holidays as well in order to provide access to finance to its customers.

That first summer for Metro was an excellent one, with the financial services provider claiming it was adding 1,000 new personal and business bank accounts on a weekly basis as customers jumped ship for what they saw as a credible alternative to the old dyed-in-the-wool high street retail banks.

More recently, investor activity has raised £126 million in funds for the bank, which will be used to aid Metro to build its branch network to as many as twenty throughout the south of England. In addition to the Reading branch, Metro has plans to open new branches in Hemel Hempstead, Staines-upon-Thames, Watford, Epsom, and Ealing as well.

Customers with Metro Bank gain access to a raft of benefits, including safety deposit boxes, credit cards and debit cards that can be used overseas without fee, and access to free coin counting machines as well. Craig Donaldson, Metro Bank chief executive, said that he was quite excited to spread the bank’s movement through the south in order to bring its ‘revolutionary’ banking processes.

Mr Donaldson has spoken up against how other high street banks have criticised the provision of free bank accounts. These other financial service providers have blamed free accounts on a wide range of issues, such as mis-selling practices of all things.

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