American bank chain Metro Bank has opened its doors in the UK today, the first new high street bank in the country for more than 100 years.
Metro Bank aims to offer its UK customers a new banking experience, including extended opening hours, seven days a week, providing current accounts and debit cards in branch on the spot, and readily available personal bankers without the need for an appointment.
Offering "unparalleled levels of service and convenience" and "surprise and delight" for every customer, Metro Bank branches, or 'stores' as it likes to call them, have opened in London today, and it hopes to follow suit across the country in the near future, offering mortgages, savings, current accounts, and loans.
Having revolutionised banking in the United States, where it was founded, Metro Bank now has its sights set on the UK, where it wants to "revolutionise the UK banking industry" with new levels of service and convenience.
But, Metro Bank already has its critics, with the Guardian reporting that consumers are unimpressed so far with its initial set of products, the lack of introductory offers, low in-credit balances on its current accounts, and not being able to apply online, which Kevin Mountford, from moneysupermarket.com says will "really restrict the growth opportunities for Metro".
Mr Mountford welcomes the additional competition in the banking arena, but, he says, "unlike Tesco and Virgin which have the ability to create large scale banks relatively quickly, Metro has a difficult task on its hands as it has to build a brand - and customer base - from scratch."
He added: "Longer opening hours, safety deposit boxes, debit and credit cards and new cheque books printed in store, and water and biscuits for dogs are all positive factors to help customers, but all that glitters is not gold."
Consumers still need to shop around to make sure they get the best deals, he urged, and not be fooled by the novelty of a new brand and approach to banking.
Andrew Hagger of Moneynet.co.uk also questions whether consumers will opt for style over substance, when Metro Bank products are not as competitive as others on the market.
"There’s no doubting that customer service will play a big part in the drive to win new business, but with uncompetitive savings and mortgage rates, only time will tell if consumers will be prepared to sacrifice better rates available elsewhere in return for the promise of a more positive experience," he said.
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