As the world’s largest building society, we remain uniquely positioned in the UK banking market and we continue to strive to bring our great service, innovation, and long-term value to small businesses. We have a rich history of delivering better service, innovation, and long-term value, coupled with the organisational resources and capabilities to compete at scale, nationally and across all channels.
The CIF provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to turbocharge our business banking proposition and inject sorely needed competition into this market.
We are using the CIF grant, matched by £50m of our own funding, to change the face of SME banking in the UK for good. We will provide millions of UK SMEs with access to better choices, forcing the whole market to compete harder and driving better customer outcomes.
We continue to invest our members’ money in laying the foundations needed to launch our business current account in 2020. However, our progress in bringing this account to market has been slower than expected. Our commitment to bring the fairness and value of mutuality to the SME banking market, particularly smaller businesses is unchanged, but experience in 2019 has led us to re-assess the rate at which this can be achieved. Our commitment to value and service and to a long-term impact on the market are unchanged.
We will bring the market leading standards of service we’re renowned for to SMEs
We remain committed to market leading standards of service, but the timeframes for bringing elements of our proposition to market will extend.
We have developed a new, dedicated mobile business banking app which allows eligible customers to open a business current account within minutes through a seamless, digital onboarding journey. We continue to test and refine the experience to maximise usability and to deliver a best-in-class customer experience.
We are focused upon removing both the real and perceived barriers to switching and we are developing our Open Banking-powered switching support and dedicated personal switching assistance. We are also progressing our access to CASS. Current estimates indicate that these will now be available in Q4 2020.
Nationwide continues to deliver excellent service to our retail members, and we plan to achieve the same excellent service standard in business banking. We continue to deliver our human touch across our national network of c.650 branches and UK-only call centres and we will roll out business banking to these following the launch of our business current account, although the nationwide roll-out will start later in 2020 than initially anticipated.
We will bring the fair, transparent pricing and great long-term value small businesses deserve
We remain committed to fair transparent pricing and great long-term value.
We will keep account fees simple and easy to understand and only charge for borrowing customers actually use. We also plan to develop our innovative price comparison tool so customers know upfront how much it will cost them to bank with both us and our competitors.
We will excel at meeting SMEs everyday banking needs
We remain faithful to this commitment, although the timeframes for bringing elements of our proposition to market will extend.
Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, and we want to hear what they have to say. That is why we’ve established our dedicated customer panel, Business Connect, which already has over 150 business owners registered who are helping to shape our proposition.
Our immediate focus remains on developing our business current account, but we have realised that it will take us longer than initially expected to build the leading proposition that we want to deliver. This, in turn, is likely to have knock-on implications to the delivery timeframes for other elements of our proposition.
We still plan to launch a highly convenient, integrated business savings product in 2020 in parallel with the progressive launch of our Business Current Account. After that, we plan to offer flexible borrowing via our unsecured business loans and to launch our business credit card with a full suite of controls that can be independently set for multiple users.
We will deliver simple solutions to real financial problems
We’ve established a dedicated workstream for this commitment and have started discussions with several innovative partners to help solve problems small businesses actually face, with digital tools that use the latest technology. Solutions will be launched through 2020 alongside our Business Current Account.
Our current priority is on linking our current account with all mainstream cloud accounting packages. We’re also working towards helping small businesses become Making Tax Digital compliant via a seamless link with our recommended UK SME accounting platform.
We plan to commence work shortly on offering easy solutions for small businesses to accept card and contactless payments directly from customers.
We’ve also started to engage with prospective partners to enable our customers to send and receive foreign currency payments at low cost, provide real-time cashflow insights, deliver in-app invoicing, and to help our customers get paid and reconcile payments.
We plan to support small businesses in finding the finance they require, with proactive referrals to designated alternative lending platforms.
We will maximise the unique opportunity provided by the CIF to transform the SME banking market
We remain committed to transforming the SME banking market.
We have the funding in place to enable us to match every pound we receive from the CIF over our five-year business planning cycle, delivering a comprehensive proposition supported by an extensive and sustained marketing campaign and great service to maximise the scale of our impact.
We’re in the process of planning how best to introduce our proposition to the branch network. Initially, this will include a phased rollout across a few branches before a wider rollout to our national network of c.650 branches. The training of our c.7,000 branch colleagues, to enable them to provide great service to our small business customers, will be phased in line with our branch rollout in 2020.
We have started to recruit additional colleagues to deliver excellent customer service whilst meeting our ambitious growth plans. Through time, we will create an additional c.200 jobs in the UK to support our small business customers.
We will conduct an annual SME Hackathon, as soon as we have sufficient customer input to clearly identified unsatisfied needs. We will invest our own money in new value-adding products and services to ensure we continue to enhance our proposition for small business customers.
We will report transparently on the delivery of our CIF commitments
The commitment to reporting transparently remains on track
We have submitted our first two quarterly progress reports to BCR in a timely, accurate and transparent manner, through robust processes that have been independently assured by both internal and external experts. This update to our Public Commitments will be published on both Nationwide’s and BCR’s websites to provide transparency on our progress.