Metro Bank, the first new high street player to enter the UK market for over 100 years, has opened its doors to the public, running on a technology platform from Swiss vendor Temenos.
The bank opened its first "store" at One Southampton Row, Holborn, London today, with a second in Earl's Court set to follow next week, as it bids to cash in on consumer distaste for traditional banking methods in the aftermath of the credit crunch.
It is using the Temenos T24 Model Bank platform to underpin old-fashioned deposit-based lending and superior customer service it claims will be in sharp contrast to current offerings.
Metro is promising branches open seven days a week. Opening hours will be 8.00am to 8.00pm from Monday to Friday. There will be a 15-minute turnaround time for approved account applications over-the-counter and branch services will be backed up by online services and a 24/7, London-based, call centre.
Temenos says Metro chose T24 Model Bank based on its proven ability in lowering entry barriers - providing a single, out of the box system with low cost, low risk and deployment carried out in just nine months. The vendor, in partnership with NIU, is supplying T24 as an externally hosted and managed service, further minimising initial capital investment.
Vernon Hill, co-founder, Metro Ban, says: "T24 gives us a competitive advantage by delivering functionality we need to support our UK business model on a single software platform, which keeps costs low and delivers a single customer view that allows us to deliver superior service to our clients."
Metro has also joined the Link ATM network, giving its customers access to all member machines. Earlier this week the bank inked a five year exclusive deal with MasterCard for payment products.
Despite the fanfare, the new bank has received a lukewarm reception in some quarters, with David Black from financial research firm Defaqto telling the Guardian: "The rates generally aren't going to trouble any best-buy tables."
Meanwhile, Kevin Mountford, head, banking, moneysupermarket.com, criticises the lack of online functionality at the new entrant. "To open an account you have to go into a branch - something easily done if you live or work in central London. However, the lack of online account opening facilities will really restrict the growth opportunities for Metro and I struggle to see how they will compete effectively against much larger rivals," he says.
Separately, another player hoping to take on the high street big boys, Virgin Money has delayed its launch until the spring, according to the Financial Times.
After acquiring a license through the acquisition of small bank Church House Trust, Richard Branson's outfit had planned to start offering online savings accounts this summer. It will now wait until next year when current accounts are also available and Virgin's first branches are opened.