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UK News Round-up: The Latest Stories 26/05

In this weeks round-up, high street banks are struggling to retain consumer trust in an increasingly digital world, 52%) of financial services professionals believe ‘greenwashing’ is rife within the industry, and the UK’s first Startup School for Seniors has launched to combat rising unemployment among over-50s

High street banks are struggling to retain consumer trust in an increasingly digital world

More than eight in ten (81%) Brits claim trust is the deciding factor on their purchasing journey, yet more than three quarters (76%) admit they lack trust in their online banking, according to new research.

Although the shift towards online banking may appear seamless, a recent study from anti-money laundering specialists, SmartSearch found that only a third (34%) of Brits trust their online banking service to be completely safe, which nearly halves to just 18% when it comes to banks handling large sums of money online.

John Dobson, CEO at SmartSearch, commented on recent events: “It is clear there are challenging times ahead for the banking industry. The pandemic has accelerated the transition from using physical branches to conducting most of our money management online, which is a big step for a lot of people and can be met with consumer resistance.

“As the age of digitisation grows, it is important that we do everything we can to safeguard against cyber threats and instil our customers with trust, but recent events involving NatWest have been damaging, not only for the individual brand but for the sector in general.

“Work needs to be done to ensure that consumers trust their money to be managed online safely, and whilst banks are taking steps to ensure their processes are as safe as possible, it may be some time before the nation is completely accepting of the changing landscape.”

UK’s first Startup School for Seniors launches to combat rising unemployment among over-50s

After a successful pilot scheme, a first-of-a-kind online course, Startup School for Seniors, officially launched today to help the rising number of unemployed people aged 50+ start businesses of their own.

Startup School for Seniors was piloted late last year following a grant from London Community Response, and its success – see case studies below – has resulted in further support from Ealing Council and the GLA.

The latest funding will help another cohort of over-50s around the UK start their own businesses given the much tougher post-Covid employment market, e.g.

ONS data published last week showed employment among the 25-49s is now back at the rate it was at the start of the pandemic, whereas the employment rate among 50-64s has fallen by 1.3 percentage points.

A report published in April by the Resolution Foundation also noted the U-shaped crisis facing 18-25s and over-50s, who are the most likely to struggle to obtain full-time work as a result of the pandemic.

Suzanne Noble, co-founder of the Startup School for Seniors, said: “Covid-19 has changed the employment market irreversibly and has made it even harder for older workers aged 50+ to find a job. With Startup School for Seniors, we want to give older people a platform through which they can take back control by launching a business of their own. When people think of startups, they tend to picture high-growth tech businesses launched by 20-somethings, but in reality the decision for many people to set up their own company is increasingly driven by necessity and putting food on the table. It could involve them monetising a lifelong hobby or putting all the experience they have gleaned through their employed careers into use for themselves. For many of the ‘olderpreneurs’ on our course, self-employment is also about flexibility and working around caring responsibilities, which affect 1 in 5 people over 50.”

More than half of financial services professionals claim competitors are ‘greenwashing’ to mislead customers about their environmental practices

More than half (52%) of financial services professionals believe ‘greenwashing’ is rife within the industry, with competitors deliberately misleading customers about their sustainable practices. That’s according to a global poll of 550 decision-makers at financial institutions including banks, hedge funds, insurance and pensions firms, conducted by the data-driven thought leadership agency, iResearch Services 


The findings reveal that more than a third (38%) believe every business is operating in an unethical fashion by claiming to be operating sustainably.

Commenting on the findings, Kevin Anthony, Associate Director of Sales – Thought Leadership at iResearch Services, said: “It’s clear that those working in the financial services industry feel organisations are indiscriminately misleading customers to save face and avoid public scrutiny. In doing so, these businesses are risking an even greater backlash in the form of regulatory clampdowns and the potential loss of trust from the public.”

Restaurant sales up 40% and pub sales up 30% from last Monday

On Monday 17th May restaurants and pubs were able to invite customers back to eat and drink inside. The data analyst team at Dojo found that not only were 23% more restaurants able to trade than a week ago, but restaurant spend went up 40% in comparison to last Monday. Spend was also 12% higher than an average Monday in July 2020.

Jon Knott, Head of Customer Insights at Dojo said: “The increased spend across pubs and restaurants on Monday 17th was a positive sign, showing that the public are continuing to support their local businesses. And to welcome back customers safely, many restaurants and pubs are limited customer contact points where possible. This means taking secure contactless and Apple and Google Pay payments as opposed to cash.”

SmartSearch urges agents to ‘ditch documents’ to be compliant

Anti-money laundering specialist SmartSearch has warned property agents are in serious danger of non-compliance with new regulations unless they ditch documents and embrace a digital solution.

In addition to the HMRC deadline next month, many estate agents are still having to work through the requirements of the fifth EU Money Laundering Directive which came into force almost 18-months-ago.

John Dobson, CEO at SmartSearch says there needs to be much greater awareness of the flaws in the practice of checking hard copy documents in the customer onboarding process, which he says is wide open to fraud. In addition, the UK government has enshrined in legislation the need to use electronic forms of verification wherever possible.

Dobson says: “The increase in organised criminal activity using the property sales market to flush through its dirty money, has been widely reported. But also, we’re seeing reports of serious spikes in fraud in the rental sector, where criminals are using fake IDs to rent accommodation as a base for their nefarious activities.

“This is being allowed to continue because agents are still relying on manually checking somebody’s passport or utility bill as part of the customer onboarding process. But criminals are turning out highly sophisticated forgeries of these documents which, in a sector as busy as it has been this past 12 months, are not undergoing the necessary scrutiny.

“So, if agents really want to ensure they are compliant and want to prevent fraud and money laundering attempts, they need to accept that documents are dead when it comes to ID checks.”


  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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