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“Squids In”? Goldman Sachs Launches UK Retail Bank Account

Promises an "intuitive digital experience"

By CBR Staff Writer

Goldman Sachs, the prestigious investment bank notoriously pilloried by Rolling Stone after the financial crisis as a “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” (a metaphor of which both the bank and the author of the piece, Matt Taibbi, are reportedly heartily tired), has launched a UK retail bank under the “Marcus” brand.

Named after one of the bank’s founders Marcus Goldman, the account has a minimum saving level of £1 with a maximum of £250,000. Its savings product offers an above average interest rate for the UK at 1.5%, as rates pick up across the sector, and comes as open banking has driven a surge in challenger bank launches in the UK.

A soft launch to staff began last month.

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Goldman Sachs Marcus launched in the US two years ago.

It promises an “intuitive digital experience” and comes as established UK banks face challenges with creaking legacy infrastructure both in-house and with the Faster Payments system, a major revamp of which is currently out to tender.

(Faster Payments this week invited bids from tech vendors for a comprehensive overhaul of its back-end infrastructure amid concerns it is longer fit for purpose and vulnerable to cyber attack.)

Last week a string of UK High Street banks faced as-yet unexplained outages.

Barclays was one of the first down, and as soon as it announced that it had resolved a glitch to its online banking service that affected customers on Thursday, customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank reported being unable to access their online banking services. Ethical bank Triodos also reported problems early last week.

A call to Triodos onfirmed that the issue was not related to Mastercard company Vocalink infrastructure (behind much of the UK’s faster payments infrastructure) but involved a “third party supplier” the bank chose not to name.

See also: Faster Payments Outage: Cause Still Unknown; 8,000 Still Chasing Transactions

Regulatory headwinds and falling return on invested capital (ROIC) have left investment banks streamlining the operations significantly and searching for growth opportunities outside of their traditional bailiwick.

Goldman Sachs Marcus enters a market already buoyant with new entrants, following open banking legisation that compels market actors to open up their customer data (customer permitting) to third parties via APIs, with the market rapidly transforming into a much more data-driven banking ecosystem.

Many of the challenger banks, like Monzo, have built new stacks from the ground up.

Marcus currently has some 150 UK employees headed up by Des McDaid, who joined last year from troubled UK bank TSB, where he was a director of savings and loans.

See also: UK Challenger Monzo World’s First Bank to Partner with IFTTT

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