Co-operative Bank rolls out branch network
The Co-operative Bank has completed the integration of Britannia Building Society today as 245 Britannia branches start to offer Co-op banking services.
The Co-op took over Britannia in 2009, but until now Britannia’s branches could only be used by Britannia customers.
Now Co-op customers can carry out everyday banking services in the branches which have been re-branded with signs showing they are part of the new Co-operative Bank.
The Co-op now has 342 branches, and it has plans for further expansion.
The new bank in town
The move means it could be the first building society to approach the size and market domination of Nationwide and could provide competition against the 'Big Five' high street banks.
The bank is a member-owned mutual organisation, so customers get shares in the profits and a say in how the business is run. It also doesn’t engage in investment banking, which should reassure customers following the financial crisis.
Possibly as a result of this the bank has seen a 73% increase in the number of new current accounts opened in the first half of this year.
"This shows that there is an appetite from consumers to switch banks and we are hoping that this move will genuinely help bring some much needed competition to the current account market," says Rod Bulmer, managing director of retail for The Co-operative Bank.
An account opened with a clearing bank (few building societies offer current accounts) that provides the ability to draw cash (usually via a debit card) or cheques from the account. Some pay fairly minimal rates of interest if the account is in credit. Most current accounts insist your monthly income (salary or pension) is paid directly in each month and they offer a number of optional services – such as overdrafts and charge cards – which are negotiable but will incur fees.
This is a mutual organisation owned by its members and not by shareholders. These societies offer a range of financial services but have historically concentrated on taking deposits from savers and lending the money to borrowers as mortgages, hence the name. In the mid-1990s many societies “demutualised” and became banks. One academic study (Heffernan, 2003) found demutualised societies’ pricing on deposits and mortgages was more favourable to shareholders than to customers, with the remaining mutual building societies offering consistently better rates. In 1900, there were 2,286 building societies in the UK; in 2011, there are just 51.