The Co-operative Bank to bid for funding from RBS fund
12 December 2018
The Co-operative Bank today confirms that it will apply for funding from the RBS alternative remedies package in
a bid to significantly grow its presence in the business banking market and drive greater competition for small
business (SME) customers.
The Bank, which currently looks after the banking needs of over 90,000 SMEs representing two per cent of the
SME business current account market, will initially target Pool A of grants worth up to £120m for the development
of business current accounts. The Bank would look to enhance and expand its current account and lending
services for small and micro SMEs (with a turnover of below £2 million), and for ethically minded SMEs who are
looking for a different choice. In addition, the Bank will also apply to the Incentivised Switching Scheme which
will offer more than 200,000 small-to-medium businesses an alternative way of banking.
Andrew Bester, CEO at The Co-operative Bank said: “The Co-operative Bank is now in a position to put the
issues of the past behind it and to once again play an important role in bringing more competition to the market –
and this is no more needed than in the business banking market where five providers hold 85 per cent*. We are
a different type of challenger, bringing both a heritage of already serving small and medium sized businesses
well with the advantage of a strong and distinct brand. We would look to utilise both of these to increase
competition and to build on the services we offer reaching out to the significant number of owner managed
businesses, tradespeople and social or charitable led organisations that are underserved and need our support.
Our aim is to really pioneer banking that makes a positive difference to small business and the communities they
Ed Mayo, Secretary General at Coops UK, commented: “There are a growing number of socially led businesses
in the UK, together with an increasing importance overall for businesses to want to partner with organisations
that are aligned with their own values. Offering small businesses an ethical alternative in banking is very
important and we are therefore pleased to see The Co-operative Bank’s application for funding as part of helping
drive greater competition market wide.”
Research from The Co-operative Bank highlights the demand for more competition in the business current
account market amongst the nation’s 5.7 million 1 small and medium sized businesses (SMEs).
- Almost a third of SMEs state they would definitely consider switching their business current account and
a majority (86 per cent) say they would be open to doing so.*
- Small and medium sized businesses have held their current business account for an average of 8.5 years, with more than a third holding their account for 11 years or more.
- High account charges (56 per cent) remain the biggest barrier to switching.
- Looking forward, larger businesses (with a turnover of over a £1m) are twice as likely to switch in the future compared to smaller businesses (with a turnover of under a £1m) – with 47 per cent saying they would definitely switch compared to 22 per cent. This also mirrors past switching behaviour with the research highlighting that 6 in 10 larger SMEs have switched their current account in the past compared to 4 in 10 smaller businesses.
The Co-operative Bank’s award-winning Business DirectPlus Current Account was rated Five Stars by
Moneyfacts in 2018 and offers 18 months of free banking to eligible customers.**
The Co-operative Bank has a unique partnership with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the UK’s
largest membership body and voice of SMEs. In addition, in February 2016, the Co-operative Bank and Co-
operatives UK partnered to form ‘The Hive’, the first co-operative development programme of its kind in the UK,
which provides new business support for people wanting to start or grow co-operative or community enterprises,
using a mix of online resources, training and advice. ‘The Hive’ aims to enhance the development and growth of
co-operative and community enterprises, a sector that is currently worth £37bn to the UK economy.
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Notes to Editors
*Research by BVA BDRC of 250 SME Business Decision Makers conducted via an online survey between 25 September
and 1 October 2018.
1 The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recorded 5.7 million SMEs working in the UK during
**Full details of the Business Directplus Account are available here:
David Masters, Lansons: +44 (0) 7825 427514
Emma Beresford, Lansons: +44 (0) 207 566 9714/ 07730 594806
About The Co-operative Bank
The Co-operative Bank plc provides a full range of banking products and services to around four million retail and SME
(Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) customers and is committed to values and ethics in line with the principles of the co-
The Co-operative Bank is the only high street bank with a customer-led ethical policy which gives customers a say in how
their money is used. Launched in 1992, the Policy has been updated on five occasions, with new commitments added in
January 2015 to cover how the Bank operates its business, products and services, workplace and culture, relationships with
suppliers and other stakeholders and campaigning.