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14 May 2019

Funding will support the Bank’s goal to double its share of the market over the next five years, through the development of products and services for SME customers

The Co-operative Bank has been awarded £15m by Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) following its successful application for funding from Pool B of the Capability and Innovation Fund as part of the RBS alternative remedies package.

The small and medium-sized business (SME) market is a focus for the Bank as it builds for the future with a significant opportunity for growth. This funding will enable the Bank to accelerate its plans to improve and expand its proposition for UK SMEs.

To deliver the transformation and on its commitments to small businesses across the country, the Bank will look to create up to 270 new jobs in the UK.

Andrew Bester, CEO of The Co-operative Bank comments: “This is fantastic news for the Co-operative Bank and we are thrilled to have been awarded this funding. Our SME banking business is a key priority for us and we see considerable potential for growth. We are committed to more than doubling our current two per cent share of the market over the next five years and look forward to putting our plans into action, better meeting the banking needs of small businesses. Our award-winning SME banking proposition is a hidden gem and we want to play our part in driving competition and offering the UK’s SMEs a genuine alternative to the ‘Big 5’ banks.”

The Bank’s strategic investment will be focused on: development of an enhanced digital service to modernise the way SME customers engage with the Bank; developing products and personalised business support services, including working with fintechs and third party solutions to help small businesses thrive; and making banking faster paced for SMEs through improved infrastructure and automation. As part of its plan, £17m of the Bank’s own funds will be committed to supplement the £15m from the Capability and Innovation Fund.

Andrew Bester continued: “Our aim is to pioneer banking that makes a positive difference to small businesses, their customers, and the communities they serve. The investment we have received from the Capability and Innovation Fund will accelerate our ability to do this. Our values are at the heart of our bank and this brand heritage is a real asset at a time when consumers are increasingly seeking ethical choices. They are important both to our loyal customers and to our future growth.”

The Co-operative Bank currently looks after the banking needs of around 86,000 SMEs, 750 co-operatives, 5,000 charities, and around 200 credit unions. The main business accounts on offer are rated Five Stars by Moneyfacts. The Business Directplus Account offers 18 months of free banking to eligible customers, and the award-winning Community Directplus Account offers free banking services to eligible registered charities, credit unions and community interest companies.

The Co-operative Bank also has a unique partnership with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the UK’s largest membership body and voice of SMEs and offers a bespoke FSB Business Banking Account. In addition, The Co-operative Bank partnered with Co-operatives UK in February 2016 to form ‘The Hive’, the first co-operative development programme of its kind in the UK, which provides new business support for people looking to start or grow co-operative or community enterprises, using a mix of online resources, training and advice.

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Notes to editors:

To view The Co-operative Bank’s ‘Commitments’ please visit the BCR website here: https://bcr-ltd.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Pool-B-£15M-The-Co-operative-Bank-Plc-Public-Commitments.pdf

Media enquiries:

Nicki Parry, Co-operative Bank; nicki.parry@co-operativebank.co.uk Tel: 0161 201 1590

Lesley McPherson, Co-operative Bank: Lesley.mcpherson@co-operativebank.co.uk  Mob: 07725 903270

David Masters, Lansons: davidm@lansons.com Mob; 07825 427514

Emma Beresford, Lansons; emmab@lansons.com Tel: 020 7566 9714

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-operative movement.

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.

Their award-winning Business Directplus Current Account was rated Five Stars by Moneyfacts in 2018 and offers 18 months of free banking to eligible customers including many charities. 

The Bank already offers a free business banking account for registered charities, co-operatives and credit unions – its Community Directplus Account – providing them with an ethical way to bank for free.  Community Directplus account holders have the opportunity to apply for funding through its unique Customer Donation Fund, which allocates at least £5,000 a year to deserving organisations.  Community Directplus customers can apply for up to £1,000 of project funding from our Customer Donation Fund, with the winners chosen by a panel of colleagues from across the Bank. In 2017, the Bank donated more than £69,000 to 78 community organisations through the fund and in 2018 gave over £40,900 to 44 organisations to support their community projects.

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