Money Insider: Will this be the year banking gets the kick up the backside it needs?
Friday 03 January 2014
As we start another year, is it too much to hope that we have seen the last of questionable sales practices, poor service and IT infrastructure failures from the banking industry?
With some big hitters set to join the current account market in the next 12 months, maybe 2014 will be the year when the sector finally gets the kick up the backside that it so desperately needs.
At the moment, some of the best current account deals on offer include Santander 123, First Direct and Metro Bank, however they may not continue to have it all their own way with some credible new challengers appearing on the horizon.
After what seems like years of rumours and false dawns, 2014 should at last see both Tesco Bank and Virgin Money launch their eagerly awaited bank account offerings.
The Tesco account could win a lot of new business very quickly, particularly if there is an element of reward as part of the package to try to tempt some of its 16 million Clubcard holders.
Virgin Money has built a solid reputation for good customer service, transparency and no-nonsense financial products, something that I'm sure we'll see as the key elements of its current account.
As well as the welcome arrival of some fresh blood, I understand that TSB is also planning to launch a new bank account of its own this year as it looks to make its own mark on the high street following the split from Lloyds.
Aside from the mainstream players, there are some exciting new product innovations to keep an eye out for from some less-established financial providers.
For frequent travellers abroad, WeSwap has launched a prepaid MasterCard enabling you to hold multiple currencies at the same time and switch funds at some of the lowest rates on the market.
It also offers you the chance to swap currency with friends and relatives at even better rates and looks like a product that could really take off in the coming year.
Another interesting idea comes from QuidCycle, looking to help people clear their debt more quickly and educating them in the process.
QuidCycle aims to help the "squeezed middle" in the UK with low rate consolidation loans but with an important difference.
Its clients are given an incentive with a reduction in their interest rate every year if payments are made on time and they agree to undertake a minimum of two hours online financial education.
Let's hope this extra competition from providers large and small delivers better products and improved customer service and not yet another year of high-profile let-downs and disappointments.
Andrew Hagger is an independent personal finance analyst from moneycomms.co.uk
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