Popular high street retailer Marks & Spencer this week confirmed that they’re to launch in-store bank branches, along with further financial products.
Marks & Spencer have offered financial services, through M&S Money, in the form of savings accounts, loans and credit cards, amongst other products, for a number of years. They have 3 million customers for these products, but now they’ve decided to offer further banking products in their stores, including a current account, which is due to be launched in the autumn.
The in-store branches will start appearing this summer, with 50 planned for the next two years.
M&S Money is in fact owned by HSBC, who bought the brand back in 2004, and the future banking services will be provided by HSBC.
So how will “M&S Bank” stack up against the other banks?
Well, its financial products have on the whole always been quite competitive, especially for those who shop at M&S regularly, as their are often deals tied in to the products.
Despite being backed by HSBC, M&S have their own banking licence, meaning customers of both HSBC & M&S banks would be covered up to £85,000 by the FSCS in both accounts, should anything happen to the banks.
With 3 million already trusting M&S with their money in one form or other, then there is evidently already a good level of trust in the brand, which should be extended to their new banking products.
However, this probably isn’t as innovative a move as HSBC and M&S would like to think; HSBC do have a good history of innovation, given their success with First Direct, but this venture is unlikely to shake up the way people bank, as has been the case with First Direct. It’s probably more a case of shifting the perception of banks onto a trusted high-street brand. Given the HSBC backing, it’s unlikely to add much competition to high-street banking.
Their experience with First Direct, often cited as being the best bank for customer service, will set them in good stead for looking after M&S customers though, who are likely to be more interested in receiving great service rather than the best rates.
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