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August 4, 2010updated 04 Apr 2017 4:16pm

Lack of online banking at Metro ‘crazy’

An internet banking expert has described Metro Banks decision to open its doors to customers without online banking as crazy. Paul Love, a business solutions consultant at banking technology vendor ACI Worldwide, expressed caution over UK start-up Metro Bank and its focus on consumer convenience, citing some of its promises as headline grabbing gimmicks. Metro Bank launched last month as a revolutionary new UK high street bank, but with its online banking service still not up and running, it has already received criticism.

By Louise Naughton

An internet banking expert has described Metro Bank’s decision to open its doors to customers without online banking as “crazy”.

Paul Love, a business solutions consultant at banking technology vendor ACI Worldwide, expressed caution over UK start-up Metro Bank and its focus on consumer convenience, citing some of its promises as ‘headline grabbing gimmicks’.

Metro Bank launched last month as a revolutionary new UK high street bank, but with its online banking service still not up and running, it has already received criticism.

“It is a bit of an enigma why Metro Bank has become much more branch focused in an age where branch banking is in decline,” said Paul Love, business solutions consultant at ACI Worldwide.

“It is crazy that it has launched without an online presence.”

Love warned that simply being available for consumers to talk to and introducing extended opening hours are not all it takes to revolutionise banking.

“Just because someone will be available to talk to 24/7 does not make a bank more consumer friendly. It is about developing relationships with customers and understanding and anticipating their needs,” he added.

According to Love, in order to change how consumers view their banks, Metro Bank would be required to have a different ethos and treat customers as people, not just accounts and numbers.

“Metro Bank is very good at creating press but whether it lives up to its promises remains to be seen. It will get customers but I’m not sure whether it will gain the acceptance of the mass market.”

While MasterCard’s instant issuance technology is a service that Love believes will add value, he dismisses services such as dog bowls and biscuits and sweets for children in branches as gimmicks that hold no value to customer satisfaction.

“It seems as though Metro Bank views its online service as a complimentary feature to its branch based business model, rather than an alternative,” Love added.

Metro Bank is aiming to have its online banking up and running later this week. Love added that opening without an online channel may have been a strategy to get potential customers to visit branches, providing Metro Bank with more “quality” customers.

“Launching with an online bank would have given it national reach, but would not have offered its branch based USPs and would have put it in direct competition with the likes of First Direct and Egg.”

Metro Bank did not respond immediately for comment.

Love’s claims come after a report in this weekend’s Financial Times which showed Metro Bank’s product offers were off the pace in a number of the main product categories, including current accounts, savings, credit cards and mortgages.

“It is clear Metro is not competing for ‘best buy’ business,” added Love.

He added that one of Metro’s main advantages was that as a start-up it would not have to deal with legacy technology systems that hamper customer service at other banks.

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