<p>A of mine is in the process of establishing a company in the UK. Part of that, of course, requires the creation of a bank account. Through a series of WhatsApp chats, I lived the experience of start-up business bank account creation and it was illuminating.</p><p>The last time I actually started a business, there was no option but to go into the bank - in that situation, I used Metro Bank for a same-day service which was pretty efficient.</p><p>In this case, however, my friend was keen to do everything online via phone. She's not a techie. She's not a digital banker. Like many of us nowadays, she's a phone first, desktop second.</p><p>Her very helpful accountant offered to get his preferred High Street bank to give her a call. She didn't mind this - if it was simple, easy and it worked. I'd go so far as to suggest she would have gone to a branch if necessary - as long as things were simple. The introduction from the accountant is still valuable even today it seems.</p><p>A few days passed and she wanted to get on with things so she poked the accountant, who poked his High Street bank contact to give her a call.</p><p>Still nothing.</p><p>"Check out Monzo," I messaged, "They do business accounts." That was just top of mind for me. I couldn't recall if Revolut had launched their business services as yet - the last I could remember, they were in test.</p><p>My friend, already a Monzo customer, found the option and went through the highly simple process to register. Tap, tap, tap. Unfortunately, Monzo declined as she didn't meet the target customer group - or some such terms. I think the fact her company is entirely new probably didn't help. But the account creation process - to this point - was a dream. I was receiving screenshots through the process. It was entirely automated. Companies House lookup, the lot.</p><p>"Ok, why don't you try Tide?" I suggested. She paused over WhatsApp clearly not having heard of the company. I've been following this business-focused neobank for quite a while and I'd heard good things from my colleague Ben who had used them in the past.</p><p>What's fascinating is that she didn't mind that Tide was entirely new. As far as she was concerned, as long as it was a proper UK bank with a license, she was fine. That doesn't say much for incumbent bank loyalty.</p><p>She then downloaded the Tide app and - again - within minutes she was at the account creation stage. Utterly seamless, really clear and easy, fully automated... until they wanted to do KYC which, interestingly, required her to submit a bank statement. She promptly exported the latest Monzo personal statement to her iPhone files and uploaded it.</p><p>No, that didn't work, reported the helpful customer services agent via the Tide app. It needs to be a statement <em>from a High Street bank</em>.</p><p>Now, this, I found really, really stimulating. Tide <em>doesn't accept Monzo</em>. Astonishing and fascinating. The mind boggles. So Monzo isn't a trusted source of know-your-customer - for Tide, anyway.</p><p>The challenge my friend has? She uses her personal Monzo account for everything and has been doing so for ages. She has an incumbent UK bank account somewhere in the ether but hasn't used it for years.</p><p>What to do?</p><p>Well... after a few minutes of head-scratching, I googled Revolut Business.</p><p>"Ah hah," I cried, "They are offering Business accounts." I sent her the link.</p><p>My friend dusted off her own personal Revolut account - re-authenticated and ... about 5 minutes later, the Revolut Business account was created.</p><p>There was KYC. They accepted Monzo. They looked up her passport and so on. They did the Companies House lookup automatically.</p><p>Now, she did have to get her other shareholder verified - but guess what - he was also a Revolut personal customer so the experience of verifying himself was a few taps.</p><p>She did have to give Revolut Business an explanation of her intended business - I thought that might cause a few issues, again, given it's a pure startup with zero history. But no. She typed in some additional text and this was accepted by Revolut.</p><p>In all, it was probably a full 24-hours to get the account established because Revolut customer services did want to verify what she was going to do and had prompted her to respond and she did so the next day - it wasn't just click-click-done. But establishing the account and getting things setup was about 5 minutes. She had the option to access a limited version of the account immediately but she chose not to.</p><p>Interestingly, she also selected the premium offering at GBP 229 per year. Which, she was billed up front. Ca-ching. Nice work Revolut. When my friend logged into her account for the first time the next day, she found the balance -229 which was fully acceptable to her.</p><p>I wonder if she would have accepted an incumbent bank charging her a full year of service in advance?</p><p>She transferred money over from her Monzo and hit refresh. I wondered if she'd need to log-out first to see the balance refresh. You know. The sort of thing you have to do with incumbent banks and their 1970s core systems ;-)</p><p>No. She hit refresh and there was her money and now she's off to the races!</p><p>She thanked me for my advice. I did suggest that she could always consider a High Street bank in future. I was concerned that - you know - if she has a bad experience in future, she wouldn't be able to walk into a branch to complain. She dismissed this immediately.</p><p>Again this is a rather interesting insight into the mind of one middle-aged business banking customer. And whilst this is just a 'market of one', what this experience illustrates:</p><ul><li>She had zero brand loyalty.</li><li>This zero brand loyalty does offer significant opportunity for new entrants - she'd never heard of Tide but after checking they were a proper bank, she found it highly acceptable to commit to using them. This also made it really easy for her not to bother completing KYC - she could have easily uploaded another form of ID - instead she just chose the path of least resistance (from her perspective). A great reminder that all of those customer-journey-sessions we invest in aren't full-proof. She simply dumped them in the middle of the process. Although, she reported that the customer agent from Tide after hearing she'd opened the account with Revolut instead did wish her all the best!</li><li>She does have a personal incumbent bank account but hasn't used it in years.</li><li>She would have considered using an incumbent business bank as recommended by the accountant ... but her expectations are wildly out of sync with the bank, I'd imagine - she was expecting the <em>same hour</em> out-reach after the accountant's recommendation. She did wait a few days before getting frustrated - so in fairness, I think even if the bank had reached out 24-hours or 48-hours later, she'd still have played the game with them.</li><li>I think my friend would have visited the (incumbent) branch if she'd been led through the process swiftly and effectively (and if this is even needed by the incumbents nowadays... I need to check).</li><li>I wonder if the accountant didn't entirely help - if you could sign-up 'online' with his preferred bank, I wonder if he could have just said "download the app..." Or maybe sent some instructions? In this example, it does go to show the influence of the accountant on bank account selection.</li><li>She prepaid the banking fees to Revolut a full year in advance. That is a good business for Revolut - at least in the context of predictable revenue that, I presume they can recognize every month.</li></ul><p>Yes, it's just a market of one... but it's a good reminder to all of us working in Financial Services that the market is highly dynamic and customer experience is - as ever - <em>everything</em>.</p>
KR Expert - Ewan MacLeod
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