I really want to like Metro Bank, I do. After all, it’s the first high street bank to launch in the UK for over 150 years. Â God knows we’ve all been banging on about that fact for months.Â And if the amount of column inches, TV & radio coverage is a measure of how succesful Metro Bank will be, then the new bank is going to take our high streets by storm.
Their PR machine has been working overtime over the past 6 months generating some really positive comments about their opening times, plush decor and love of dogs. They even managed to get the BBC to go and visitÂ their first branch. A real coup for a business launching with a single branch.
In my opinion, the hype generated by the launch says more about how much customers were crying out for a new, different option for banking, rather than the “innovative” service Metro Bank promises to offer.
Let’s face it, they didn’t have to do too much to shake up the banking world. Their biggest hurdle was to overcome public dislike of banks and bankers, and they seem to have managed this just by being new and having a few PR-friendly features. But behind the headlines, there’s a few things about Metro Bank that are failing to get me too excited about this launch:
- Open 7 days a week and for longer hours – for a bank, it’s revolutionary, but retail has been doing this for years. This is banking catching up with modern life, rather than a bank pushing the boundaries.
- They’ve only opened one branch (I’m not falling for this “store” nonsense). They’re planning on opening a couple of hundred over the next decade, but these are expected to be within the M25, so the longer opening hours will be no good for the majority of the population who live outside the capital.
- Have you seen the branch decor? It looks like the set from a dodgy daytime quiz show on Five.
- I don’t get the fascination with dogs – let’s face it, the bowls of water and bones are a gimmick. Do they offer free Metro poopascoops? They might need to.
- Online banking – we’re yet to see what this looks like and how it performs compared with the established banks. It’s a bit of a risk for those signing up to an account now when they can’t yet see what the online banking experience will be like. Let’s hope they spend a little more time and money than they appear to have on their corporate site.
- The “magic money machines” – “Turn your coins into cash for free” – aren’t coins cash too? It’s good that they’re free, but why the need to integrate a game into the machine? Tacky.
- Rates – whilst I do like how they’ve made their products simple to understand, none of their products is likely to worry the best-buy tables any time soon.
- The mascot, “Metro Man”. A distant relative of Paul Daniels creationÂ Wizbit, which should sound alarm bells.
- Public toilets – as one comment on the Telegraph put it “I can see me making regular deposits at my local branch.”
- There are going to be a few other new banks, from the likes of Tesco and Virgin, Â launching on the high street over the next 12 months, and I’m hoping these will be more accessible to the wider population, and have a few tricks up their sleeve, which could put this Metro Bank launch in the shade.