Digital banks placed ahead of traditional rivals in customer service poll

Digital banks which do not have their own branch network have topped a customer service poll from MoneySavingExpert.com.

Mobile bank Monzo was placed top, with another app-based challenger, Starling Bank, in third.

Online and telephone bank First Direct, a brand of HSBC UK, was second.

More than 5,000 current account holders responded to MoneySavingExpert’s online poll, with 94% of Monzo customers rating its service “great”, compared to 89% for long-term champion First Direct.

Until last year, First Direct had topped every banking service poll the website had carried out – but it was pipped to the post by Monzo in March 2019.

First Direct clawed the top spot back in August 2019, helped by Monzo not receiving enough votes to be included. Only banks with 100 or more votes are included in MoneySavingExpert.com’s surveys.

At the other end of the spectrum, RBS was placed bottom, with 35% of its customers rating its service “great”.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “This is the dawn of the age of app-based banking, with both Monzo and Starling appearing on the top service podium. They are leaving the old banks looking like lumbering dinosaurs.

“Tech expectations, especially among younger customers, are sky-high. They don’t just want to see their balances, they want charming tools that help them interrogate their finances, aid budgeting, and even algorithms to help them save automatically. Some old banks are trying to introduce this, but they aren’t nimble enough.

“Yet while none of the winners have branches, we need to be careful not to draw the conclusion they’re not needed. The banking sector has to run a balance between tech-savvy new customers and providing continuity of facilities to some in the older generation who can’t or won’t bank online.

“And while Monzo and Starling are top for service, they don’t come close to packing the perks of some of the older players, who have to buy in customers – RBS, NatWest and HSBC all currently pay new switchers £175.

“And filling the sweet spot between service and finance is First Direct, which is second for service and currently gives new switchers £100 for free, a £250 0% overdraft for some, and a linked 2.75%-paying regular savings account.”

Here are the results of the MoneySavingExpert banking customer service survey for February 2020, with the percentage of customers who rated their bank as “great”, followed by the percentage who said it was “okay”, and the percentage who said it was “poor”:

1. Monzo, 94%, 4%, 2%

2. First Direct, 89%, 7%, 4%

3. Starling, 86%, 5%, 9%

4. Nationwide, 74%, 20%, 6%

5. Co-op Bank/Smile, 68%, 22%, 10%

6. Santander, 54%, 37%, 9%

7. Barclays , 54%, 30%, 16%

8. Lloyds , 51%, 32%, 17%

9. Halifax, 47%, 40%, 13%

10. HSBC, 45%, 34%, 21%

11. NatWest, 41%, 38%, 21%

12. TSB, 39%, 39%, 22%

13. RBS, 35%, 35%, 30%.

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