The established high street names dominate the list of banks on the Web – perhaps unsurprising given the overall market share they have. Despite garnering plenty of attention over the years, the challenge that the online-only banks, such as Egg and Smile, represent to the established players has stalled. None of them make it into the top ten most-visited banking sites.
The high street banks have taken on board much of the online practices of the Web pioneers – and that, alongside customer inertia which most banks rely on, means few people have got around to moving their main account. Facing up to that fact, First Direct, perhaps the most consistently praised online bank, has swapped carrots for sticks this month and introduced charges for customers not keeping enough money in their account.
Online specialists make far more impact on the insurance market – with Moneysupermarket in particular doing better than major players such as Direct Line and Norwich Union. With little to distinguish between most insurance providers other than price, it is to be expected that those promising to help you find your way through the cluttered market do well – something the AA has consistently based its marketing on, alongside Moneysupermarket and Confused.com.
Elsewhere in the online finance market more innovative companies are gaining ground. Zopa, an online loans exchange site created by Richard Duvall who had previously set up Egg, recently relaunched its website to coincide with a move into the US market. It claims to have signed up over 100,000 members in the UK since it launched in March last year, and has had approaches from people in over 50 countries who want to launch Zopa in their own territories.