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French car manufacturer Renault is the latest firm to enter the UK financial services sector with the introduction of an online savings account.
RCI Bank, the UK division of Renault financing arm RCI Banque, is offering a UK savings account through MoneySuperMarket. This is an online-only account, backed up by a callcentre.
RCI Bank plans to follow this up with additional products later in 2015. The bank said its banking platform is an in-house proprietary system based on leading, well-known platforms and technologies.
This follows similar launches in France, Germany and Austria over the past four years.
Complicated and secure IT systems were once the advantage of high street banks, but in today’s online world banks face competition from players in the finance sector and beyond.
For example, technology companies are offering payment services and lending through peer-to-peer platforms, with new banks harnessing off-the-shelf technology to enter the finance sector.
Even manufacturers see an opportunity in the finance sector, as Renault’s launch shows.
Steve Gowler, CEO of RCI Bank, said over the next 12 months there will be further product launches.
“We have the benefit of being part of a global group, working for Renault and Nissan brands, and we are committed to using our strength to deliver the very best savings accounts and security for our customers in the UK,” he said.
Banks, like companies in many sectors, face increasingly developed competition, as businesses harness digital technology to diversify.
“[Our] platform houses the latest encryption security and features, all of which create real competition in the savings market,” said the bank in a statement.
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According to RCI Bank, the role of technology in banking is ultimately about ensuring the customer is at the centre of investments, and keeping the customer pivotal.
“We can do this without relying on legacy systems, while offering customers genuinely useful features, such as changing interest payments dynamically, personalising their accounts and appending pictures to each of their accounts. This makes it even easier for our customers to save, and creates real competition in the savings market,” the statement said.
Speaking at the Gartner Sourcing and Strategic Supplier Relationships Summit 2015 in London, Gartner analyst Helen Huntley said most companies don’t even know who their main competition will be in a few years’ time because entrants are arriving from outside.
Several Gartner analysts at the event referred to Kodak when warning businesses to harness digital. The once-mighty company that brought photography to the masses filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2012. Simply, Kodak failed to change quickly enough in reaction to the rapid changes in its market brought on by digital technology.
For the first time, customers of the big five banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Santander – and Nationwide building society will be able to use information from their statements to compare all personal bank accounts on the market to see which is best for them.