A new entrant in the UK's high street banking sector today confirmed plans to open its first branches by April.
Metro Bank - backed by US billionaire Vernon Hill - is set to launch with two branches in Earl's Court and Holborn as part of its assault on the London banking market (see the Best Bank Accounts guide).
It is still waiting for final approval from the Financial Services Authority for a banking licence, but has signed up five more City heavyweights to its board ahead of the planned April launch.
Metro will focus solely on the Greater London area, with a target to launch 200 branches within 10 years.
As well as the two launch branches, Metro hopes to open two more sites in Borehamwood and Fulham Broadway this year, with a further eight in 2011.
Metro claims it will put customer service at the forefront, with plans to open branches from eight in the morning to eight at night and at weekends too.
It will have customer toilets and offer a 15-minute service to open accounts, complete with credit and debit cards.
Hill says Metro will look to steal share from the big five existing players by pledging a revolution in customer service.
He says: "The number one problem we have is the inertia of people to change banks - we're going to make it easy, but typically people don't switch banks very often.
"In London, opening a bank account is like having your teeth drilled. We're going to open accounts in 15 minutes."
The group is set to be the first of a wave of new banks looking to enter the market over the next few years, opening up a sector that has shrunk vastly since the financial crisis.
Virgin Money is also waiting in the wings, with Tesco another tipped to launch a full banking operation within a year or two.
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