Each week we take a look at some of the latest fintech news to hit the industry. This week, digital business account Mettle reaches 50,000 customers and a third of adults believe they have been misled by ‘finfluencers’.
Lloyds Bank to close 60 more branches across UK
Lloyds Banking Group has announced the closure of 60 branches across the UK, with 24 Lloyds Bank branches, 19 Bank of Scotland branches and 17 Halifax branches toshut as customers move towards online and mobile banking.
The bank has advised that the number of online banking customers has increased by 12 per cent over the last 2 years, and mobile banking customers increased 27 per cent over the same period.
Vim Maru, group retail director, said: “Our branch network is an important way for us to support our customers, but we need to adapt to the significant growth in customers choosing to do most of their everyday banking online.”
A third of adults believe they have been misled by ‘finfluencers’
A survey of 2,000 UK adults by investment brokerage XTB found that 33 per cent regret taking advice from social media financial influencers – dubbed as ‘finfluencers’ – who they now believe overstated their own credentials.
The UK has seen a rise in online content creators sharing their finance advice on social media, with the study revealing that there are now 71,159 UK finfluencer accounts on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube alone.
Of these, 37,847 provide investment guidance and 7,246 offer cryptocurrency advice. Only 5.5 per cent of UK finfluencer accounts analysed were verified, and 61.4 per cent demonstrated signs of suspicious activity.
However, nearly half (46 per cent) of Britons found the volume of online finance advice overwhelming and didn’t know how to identify who was legitimate, while nearly a third (29 per cent) spent less time verifying the credentials of online finance experts, compared to those they met in person.
Mettle reaches 50,000 customers
Mettle, the NatWest-backed digital business account, has seen 500 per cent customer growth since the start of 2021, reaching a milestone of 50,000 side hustlers, freelancers and small businesses in the UK.
Despite challenges for these small businesses, Mettle – which was built to serve the self-starters of the UK – has also seen customer deposits increase by almost 600 per cent, and has processed £2billion worth of customer transactions through the platform since January 2021, showing strong growth in the sector.
Newly appointed CEO of Mettle, Andy Ellis said: “Hitting this customer milestone is a testament to how active this segment of the market is. Traditionally, smaller businesses and side hustlers have been too expensive to service and their needs too diverse. Our unique position being backed by NatWest’s regulatory and financial know-how gives us the space to focus on putting our customers’ needs first.”
Men are nearly twice as likely as women to feel optimistic about finances despite being more reliant on credit
New research from the subscription loan provider, Creditspring reveals that men in the UK are feeling much more optimistic about their finances compared to women.
Men are 50 per cent more likely than women to feel more optimistic about their finances than ever before – a quarter of men (25 per cent ) felt this way compared to just 15 per cent of women. However, men are also more likely to rely on credit, with around one in six (15 per cent ) men admitting that they will need to borrow money in the next six months, compared to one in ten women (11 per cent ).
Neil Kadagathur, Co-Founder and CEO of Creditspring, comments: “Despite the UK struggling through a cost of living crisis, many men remain surprisingly optimistic about their finances. With soaring living costs, purse strings will need to be tightened and men are at real risk of sliding into unmanageable debt if they’re not vigilant.
SmartSearch launches high-risk country report
A new high-risk country report service has been launched by anti-money laundering specialist, SmartSearch in response to the introduction of sanctions against Russia. The service enables regulated businesses to scan existing clients and check for residency or citizenship in Russia, Belarus, or any other high-risk countries.
The aim is to support those companies looking to quickly and efficiently evaluate their existing client bases following sanctions placed on a number of Russian individuals and businesses.
Martin Cheek, managing director of SmartSearch explained: “This new product will give businesses peace of mind that they aren’t working with anyone they shouldn’t be. The information will be provided quickly and efficiently, and will also be regularly updated for ongoing monitoring purposes.”
Fintech Scotland announces new strategic partnership with NCR Corporation
FinTech Scotland, the cluster management body, has announced a new strategic partnership with NCR Corporation, an enterprise technology provider to further advance innovation for financial institutions.
The partnership builds on NCR’s strong innovation track record as a software and services provider with a long-established heritage of applying new technology developed through its Dundee Discovery Centre.
Nicola Anderson, Chief Executive, FinTech Scotland, said, “We are hugely excited about the strategic partnership with NCR and their dynamics and pioneering approach to developing technology will further accelerate innovation with fintech SMEs and large financial firms in the cluster. Our industry-driven, action-orientated R&I Roadmap will provide the ideal framework to advance new financial services innovations with NCR and we look forward to the collaboration with the NCR team in Dundee as well as the USA and across the globe”.
58 per cent of young Brits have bought crypto; most think it’s ‘future of finance’
According to a new opinion poll commissioned by StarkWare Industries, 58 per cent of Brits aged 18-to-24 have invested in cryptocurrency. This age group is also convinced that crypto is the “future of finance,” with 52 per cent subscribing to this view.
Those who have invested are constantly checking and adjusting their assets. Some 81 per cent have at least one crypto tracker on their phone, and 40 per cent say they “fiddle or amend” their holdings daily. Only 19 per cent of those with crypto holdings let a week pass without making changes.
“This poll shows how widespread crypto has become while indicating just how huge it will soon become,” said Eli Ben-Sasson, co-founder and president of StarkWare Industries.
“We see that young Brits, those who will soon shape the economy, are especially tuned in to crypto. It’s an important insight that they are investing in large numbers, and overwhelmingly convinced crypto will be ‘the future’.”