The ice men can melt savers' hearts. But will their rates stay faithful?

Foreign providers have burnt British fingers before. The Viking invasion should be different, finds Kate Hughes

Forget cod, Bjork and the Vikings, the latest exports from Iceland to grace our shores are their marauding banks – armed, luckily, with some highly competitive savings products.

The most recent newcomer, Kaupthing Edge, landed here last week with an account offering 6.5 per cent interest, instant access and a guarantee to pay 0.3 per cent above the Bank of England base rate for the next five years.

The invaders come in peace – though UK rivals might argue – and their deals, frequently topping the "best buy" savings tables, do tend to be as competitive as they seem.

"These products really are good," says Lisa Taylor of comparison service Moneyfacts. "Along with the new entrant, Icesave's instant access savings account offers 6.3 per cent, is easy to understand and has few conditions. They do not have the same cost base as the big UK banks, which are finding it very difficult to compete."

HSBC, for example, comes close to the rates of Landsbanki, Kaupthing Edge and others, but only if consumers don't take any withdrawals.

What the ice men do next, however, is crucial. Consumers have been burnt before by foreign banks bearing gifts.

For example, the Dutch- owned ING Direct came to the UK offering a bumper instant access rate and attracting a huge inflow of cash deposits – only for rates to be allowed to wilt.

In the case of Kaupthing Edge, though, Kevin Mountford of comparison site Moneysupermarket.com is confident of the new entrant's staying power. "Customers wondering whether their cash will be safe and how rates will fare once Kaupthing has gained a foothold should be happy. Based on its track record in Europe, it should remain competitive.

"The Icelandic banks are entering the market with few products, so their pricing is clear and all the consumer has to do is monitor it."

It isn't just Europeans who are cashing in on our market. Indian bank ICICI, whose HiSave easy-access account offers 6.41 per cent, continues to top the savings charts, and Nigeria's FBN Bank is responsible for another easy-access product that matches the Kaupthing Edge offer.

But after stories of scandals in overseas call centres, consumers would be entitled to ask if money held with a foreign bank is safe.

On the surface, the answer has to be yes. Overseas-based providers are subject to the same Financial Services Authority regulations on deposit security, while their customers are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme for 100 per cent of the first £35,000 worth of deposits, under the same rules as the domestic market. And almost every international bank has signed the British Banking Code, which is voluntary but sets out best practice for how banks treat their customers.

It is also worth remembering that the line is blurring between UK and overseas financial companies, with household names like Abbey owned by foreign institutions.

But if consumers are still uncertain about the safety of their money, Mr Mountford says they could spread the risk across a number of accounts, as they should in case of risk in any market.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: HR Benefits Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

    £30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

    Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

    £250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

    Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

    £230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?