New retail banks face IT complexity

Market entrants are having to create complex systems to compete for UK retail bank customers. One of the highest-profile new ventures in the sector is Tesco Bank. Its parent posted an upbeat interim management statement today and said ongoing IT work at its financial services arm was making "good progress".

Market entrants are having to create complex systems to compete for UK retail bank customers.

One of the highest-profile new ventures in the sector is Tesco Bank. Its parent posted an upbeat interim management statement today and said ongoing IT work at its financial services arm was making "good progress".

Tesco Bank is now developing its own technology infrastructure with systems testing underway and staff recruitment for its new operational centres "well advanced", the firm said.

"We're growing the number of customer accounts and there is an encouraging trend in the level of bad debts," Tesco added.

Tesco Bank selected Fiserv to deliver the core banking platform to replace its legacy systems and enable it to launch new products, in November last year.

The core platform will manage customer account data and banking transactions. Clients will also be able to access their accounts from UK call centres, stores, online or ATMs.

Tesco Bank already has a portfolio of more than 20 financial products and services, but the company's goal is to evolve its offering to that of a full-service bank.

Other new players such as Metro Bank have recently joined the competition in retail banking, but here technical work seems to be more than just a complexity and is hindering progress.

Metro Bank - the first start-up bank to launch in the UK since the late 19th century - is still struggling with complex system checks and last-minute product preparations despite obtaining regulatory approval three months ago, according to the Financial Times.

In addition to extended opening hours seven days a week, Metro Bank will offer an online service which is expected to include SMS alerts warning if customers are about to exceed their credit limit.

Press reports suggest that the bank has already offshored its back-office set-up, but call centres will be based in the UK.

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