How Do You Solve A Problem Like The British High Street Banks?

The banking monopolies here in the UK really bug me.  It’s like mobile phone companies – whichever one you go to they screw you if not one way then another.

Not satisifed with causing the near meltdown of the global Western economy, nor forcing the government to invest TRILLIONS (a figure few can actually get their head around) into bailing them out, they don’t even offer a good service to us lowly customers; not even if you pay £12  a month for the privelgage of being an “HSBC Advance” customer, whatever this actually means.

I can’t blame the banks entirely of course.  The government were weak in dealing with the banks through weak leadership of their own and the fear of meltdown the banks themselves made great efforts to fuel. Additionally, with a heritage of depth and length in making money from money, it’s little wonder that those who work in the banking institutions and certainly those at the top of these pyramids of management are neither phased or bothered by a steadfast focus on profit above all else. CSR is part of the rich mix of brand positioning required in todays complex world, not something which is volunteered and placed a the centre of any business strategy for making profit while doing good.

This comment feeds into the wider issue of capitalism itself and this post is not the forum for that discussion.

I went to Metro bank in London Holborn a weeks back (November 11th 2010 to be precise) my hapenning to be nearby on their opening day (I was hanging around waiting for the nearby RBS to open at 9.30am, to do some business banking) so I wandered in and checked them out, as they had opened at 8.30am – as the rest of the business world.

Nothing really struck me as new – apart from a rather punchy colour scheme.

Love Your Bank? ..little chance

If they really want to differentiate, the online offering of high street banks is one are they could focus on. I have both RBS and HSBC online accounts and both are literally flaberghastingly awful, although HSBC’s recent updates are a small step forward. The last company I founded, Rummble, had some flaws in it’s products and of course our small team of five did our best to fix them; but we don’t have trillons of tax payers money to play with of RBS, or the profit of billions like HSBC.

If a new bank wants to differentiate, an awesome online and mobile banking system would be a great start.

Appendix of Problems

So here in swift review are the most glaringly obvious flaws of banking online:

  • I dont want to install some badly written banking firewall software so stop asking me to
  • Cut and past doesnt work properly
  • You can only show upto 100 transactions in the transactions view list – What, so if I have a busy account I cant display them? No, you cant. You have to do seperate searches in the same month
  • My monthly statement shows international transfers as “INTL” and a reference number. The transaction list shows the actual recipient. WHY? This is unhelpful and makes no sense and makes reconciliation difficult also.
  • Transactions list. You can only query 60 days back. Why? “You have to look in the previous statements” Why?  …see above problem
  • CVS export doesnt work properly and is in a stupid format; with everything in one column for transactions, no running balance and even then there are errors with things in the wrong column
  • On the RBS  site you can’t change the reference when you do a transfer – you have to re-create the recipient using the security card thing JUST to change the reference used in a transfer. Why?

Just a few on my grips, alongside the overall nightmare which is banking with the worlds local bank when travelling; see my last post for that saga.


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