Metro Bank growth points the way for digital retail banking startups

Digital retail banks starting up in the UK buoyed by the success of Metro Bank, demonstrating the public appetite for new providers

The raft of new banks starting up the UK should be buoyed by the growth of the pioneering Metro Bank, which shows a strong public appetite for new providers.

Metro Bank opened its doors in 2010 and was the first company to be granted a banking licence in 150 years. Its arrival shortly, after the credit crunch, came as consumers voiced dissatisfaction with the “bad banks” blamed for the financial crisis.

The UK financial services regulators, the financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) are currently trying to spur competition in the retail bank sector.

As a result there are a number of new banks with licences and others in the process of applying.

These banks include: Atom Bank, set up by Metro Bank founder, Anthony Thomson; Fidor Bank ; Starling; Charter Savings Bank; Hampden and Lintel Bank. In its latest financial results, Metro bank announced 118% growth in deposits to over £2.8bn; and an 112% increase in loans taken out, worth £1.6bn, compared with last year.

Metro's recruitment drive

The bank now has 447,000 customer accounts, which is 63% higher than last year.

The bank made a loss of £8.9m in the fourth quarter which was less than the £9.4m lost in the previous quarter. The bank said this reflects its “continued investment in people, infrastructure and technology”.

Metro Bank has 31 branches across London and the South-East, with ten due to open during 2015 in areas including Brighton, Cambridge, Southend and Harrow.

The bank has employed more than 1,500 employees, 500 of whom were recruited in the last year. It plans to hire up to 500 people in 2015.

"Last year was another great year for Metro Bank,” said Craig Donaldson, chief executive of Metro Bank. 

“Throughout the year we saw substantial growth in deposits and lending, and the number of personal and business customers joining the banking revolution has continued to increase. 

"As we start a new year, we’re excited to continue innovating and providing a real banking choice to the British people, as well as maintaining our commitment to deliver the best in service and convenience.”

When it set up, Metro Bank signed a multimillion-pound contract with IT services provider Niu Solutions to manage the bank's infrastructure. Niu designed and built the retail bank's IT infrastructure, including on-site and hosted voice, data, virtual desktop, mobility, connectivity, website, user helpdesk and datacentre services. The IT platform is hosted at dual datacentres in the UK.

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