HSBC WADES IN ON THE DIGITAL-ONLY BANK MARKET: Europe’s largest lender, HSBC, is close to launching a stand-alone digital bank, reports The Telegraph. The bank has already recruited in excess of 100 people for the venture, dubbed Project Iceberg, according to sources familiar with the matter cited by The Telegraph. HSBC is the latest high-street lender in the UK to have entered the race to build a separate online bank in the face of fierce competition from neobanks like Monzo, Revolut, and Starling. Last week, we reported that RBS had enlisted Starling to help it with its digital bank ambitions, and Santander is also reportedly in the process of building an online outfit for the UK market. With Monzo signing up 18,000 current account holders per week, and Starling having signed up more than 200,000 users by this point, incumbents, particularly in the UK, are seeing more and more competition from neobanks. And, given these challenger banks are free from legacy products and systems, they have managed to develop agile and responsive products and services to target an increasingly tech-savvy customer base. HSBC’s move is evidence that incumbents are taking the challenge posed by these fintechs seriously. However, with the UK’s digital-bank market saturated, the success of HSBC’s new offering is far from guaranteed.


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