Nationwide strengthens commitment to launch business banking as "opportunity too big to ignore"

22 November 2018

  • Nationwide today commits to launching business banking proposition that will shake up market
  • But £50 million funding from RBS remedies fund would deliver a bigger impact, sooner
  • Branches & digital at heart of Society plans with small businesses to be served on their terms
  • Society applies for Incentivised Switching Scheme as it looks to maximise impact at launch

Nationwide, the world’s biggest building society, today announces that it will launch a business bank account with or without external funding as it commits to supporting small firms up and down the country.

The Society, which won the accolade of Which? Best Banking Brand of the Year for the last two years, also announces it is making a submission to the Incentivised Switching Scheme1 as a precursor to applying for up to £50 million of funding from the Capability and Innovation Fund 2 so that it can launch a market-leading, digitally enabled business current account by the end of 2019.

Funding will ensure Nationwide maximises its potential to enter the market with a strong and vibrant proposition that will use the Society’s leading service and trust credentials to attract new and existing members. But even without the funding, Nationwide has now committed to launching a business current account next year that could grow organically over time.

The account will be designed to meet the straightforward needs of small and microbusinesses combining fair value with Nationwide’s market-leading service levels. The proposition will combine innovative digital technology with access to branch service.

Joe Garner, Nationwide’s Chief Executive, said: “Supporting small businesses with a current account marks an important step for Nationwide – each year around 50,000 of our members ask us if we can help. This opportunity is just too big to ignore, which is why today we are reaffirming our commitment to launch a business bank account proposition.

“Successfully bidding for the Capability and Innovation Fund remains our number one priority – it will accelerate our ability to give our members a fully-fledged business banking service with the associated benefits such as unsecured term lending and credit cards. Without the funding we will still launch our proposition. This option would clearly take much longer to reach maximum potential as it would not initially benefit from the added products and services, incentives and marketing drive we are currently considering. We believe we can make a real difference as our proposition will build on the high levels of service and trust associated with Nationwide.”

As the only major financial services provider not to currently offer a SME banking proposition, Nationwide aims to make a real difference to a sector it believes is underserved, with five big banks holding 85 per cent of business accounts3. Nationwide is extremely well placed to enter the market, having grown its personal current accounts by over 40 per cent in the last five years, with Current Account Switching Service data showing that the Society attracted one in every five switchers for the period of April to September3.

The Society will use its leading service and trust levels to attract both new and existing business banking customers, who will benefit from being able to transact across the Society’s network of around 650 branches.

As a mutual organisation driven by member needs and not profit, it will focus on the UK’s 5.6 million smaller and micro businesses - from tradespeople and sole traders to owner-managed businesses. And with more than 95 per cent of UK businesses having fewer than ten employees4, this will ensure Nationwide has wide appeal.

A new team - Nationwide for Business - has been established to create and deliver the new account, in addition to applying for funding.

Joe Garner added: “Small businesses typically do not have complex banking needs, but they do demand and deserve excellent banking products and services as well as fair value. They need a current account that doesn’t take days to open or that levies large fees. They need someone they can contact and trust when they have a problem, and they need to know their banking provider has the scale and stability to be there when they need it.

“Nationwide is the only major financial services provider not to currently offer business banking and it is the only credible alternative that could change the way the market operates. We can do this by offering a fair product that doesn’t discriminate based on the size of a business or its ambitions to grow.”

Notes to Editor:

1Incentivised Switching Scheme

The purpose of the Incentivised Switching Scheme is to provide funding of up to a maximum of £275 million to eligible bodies to use as incentives to encourage SME banking customers (with an annual turnover of £25 million or less) of the business previously described as Williams & Glyn to switch their business current accounts and loans from RBS to the eligible bodies

2Capability and Innovation Fund

The purpose of the Capability and Innovation Fund is to encourage eligible bodies to (i) develop and improve their capability to compete with RBS in the provision of banking services to SMEs; and (ii) develop and improve the financial products and services which are available to SMEs. The Capability and Innovation Fund comprises a total of £425 million which is divided into four pools. The four pools each have a distinct purpose and are divided into a number of pre-determined grants.

Banking Competition Remedies Ltd. is the name given to the Independent Body established to administer the CIF and ISS funds


4Source: Mintel

5 99% of businesses have 50 employees or fewer, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (2017). Business Population Estimates 2017.

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

Please note: If you are a customer looking for information on our products and services, please visit the main website.