Net banks lack public credibility

UK high street banks still have time to steal a march on trendy Internet competition, according to a MORI poll.

It reports that only eight per cent of UK consumers believe a funky image and cool branding are important when choosing an online bank. However, 22 per cent of 16-20 year olds do think this an important factor, as do 14 per cent of Londoners.

Moreover, the evidence seems less than conclusive, since Prudential off-shoot Egg scores highly in terms of brand awareness. This may not be so much down to its “funky” credentials but because it has benefited from major on and offline advertising. It also began life as a bank offering accounts over the phone, and only made the move to full-time Internet bank later.

However, another high-profile off-shoot, the Co-op Bank’s Smile, does fare badly. Only 19 per cent of respondents had heard of it, and most of those were in the key target age range of 21 to 24. Of those who recognised Smile, only 56 per cent knew it was a financial services provider.

Included in the survey were Internet brands with the potential to move into financial services, When asked about Boo.com, only ten per cent of people had heard of it and just a fraction of these realised it was an online retailer. Twelve per cent thought it was a search engine and 55 per cent did not know.

The research, carried out for computer firm ICL, also claims more than half the UK population prefer their bank to have a high street presence as well as a website. Only 20 per cent consider a bricks and mortar facility unimportant, against 77 per cent in favour.

Over 80 per cent say they won’t use an Internet bank that isn’t based in the UK.

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