Post Office set to combine financial services

January 26th, 2015 1 Comment By Ian Wade

postoffice10a 300x180 Post Office set to combine financial servicesThe Post Office are set to announce that it will bring together all of its financial products into a new whole called Post Office Money.

It’s hoped that this will pump the Post Office up to becoming a leading challenger-type brand in the financial services solutions market, while the big bank set start to wind down branches on the high street.

Business secretary Vince Cable is to meet up with major lenders to sort out a deal that will let bank customers make the most of the Post Office’s 11,5000 branches.

The Post Office currently offers products including insurance, mortgages, savings accounts and foreign exchange, some of which are provided through a partnership with Bank of Ireland.

Speaking to Sky News, Nick Kennett, director of financial services at Post Office Money, said: “Consumers want a choice about how they manage their money; at Post Office Money our customers have access to an unrivalled network as well as online and phone, combined with multi-award winning products.

“We have been listening to our customers and know that people are facing some big financial decisions, and through the new Post Office Money we want to become their first choice when thinking about a mortgage, credit card or a safe haven for their savings.”

The Post Office network has around three million customers within its banking and insurance business and nine million people use its foreign currency exchange services, while 2,500 of its branches open on Sundays.

Vince Cable is said to be quite keen on the idea, after getting cheesed off with major banks who decided not to renew a commitment not to close branches where they are the only one left in local communities.

The banks are all saying that with technology and the like, people are doing less in a bank, and more online.

But Mr Cable argued to Sky News that: “There are a lot of people who are not connected who also need to do basic banking functions, and we mustn’t be in a position where large numbers of villages and other small communities are effectively being cut off from banking.

“If the banks cannot perform that service we need an adequate substitute, and they’ve got a responsibility to help provide it.”

Metro Bank expand but yet to make a profit

January 22nd, 2015 3 Comments By Ian Wade

Picture 5 Metro Bank expand but yet to make a profitMetro Bank are planning new openings.

The fuss-free so-called ‘challenger’ bank has also had nearly half a million people open accounts in the last year. On top of that, it also saw its deposits soar from £1.3bn to £2.9bn, with lending growing to £1.6bn from £754m.

Since the bank’s launch in 2010, it has opened 31 branches across the south east of the UK and now plans another 10 during 2015, including branches in Brighton, Southend and Harrow.

Metro Bank’s appeal is that it would rather focus on service rather than compete with the bigger banks in best buy charts for savings and the like. They also offer existing customers the same deals as new customers, by now kowtowing to cheap deal gimmicks. The bank’s best offering at the moment is a two-year fixed-rate cash Isa paying 1.8%, which creeps into Moneyfacts best buy deals behind the Post Office’s 1.95% rate.

Craig Donaldson, chief executive of Metro Bank, said: “2014 was another great year for Metro Bank. Throughout the year we saw substantial growth in deposits and lending, and the number of personal and business customers joining the banking revolution has continued to increase. As we start a new year, we’re excited to continue innovating and providing a real banking choice to the British people, as well as maintaining our commitment to deliver the best in service and convenience.”

Childcare costs wipe out the average wage

December 30th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

child money 300x224 Childcare costs wipe out the average wageOne in ten families have at least one earner’s wages blown on childcare and commuting, according to some research by Aviva.

4% of the women surveyed said they were paying to work, because their costs were greater than their earnings.

Understandably, this is quite a frustrating affair for anyone with nippers.

This echoes an earlier CBI suggestion that the government should give a bit more of a shit about, and extend childcare support for those with children around the one and two mark. The CBI employers’ organisation said that this, and raising the threshold for National Insurance, would help raise family incomes and get more adults into work.

43% of the parents surveyed, who had children aged up to five, said they used childcare to enable them to go back to work.

According to The Family and Childcare Trust, the cost of childcare in the UK was £11,700 for an average family with one child in full-time nursery and one child in an afterschool club. Further to Avuva’s survey of 2,000 parents with kids aged up to five, saw that the lower earner’s wage was left with £243 a month, once they’d shelled out for childcare, commuting and all that sort of thing.

Louise Colley, protection director at Aviva, said: “[Our] findings paint a picture of a nation of parents struggling to keep their heads, and careers, above water in the face of rising childcare costs,”

The government claims – between thinking about legalising fox-hunting and shoving luxury flats everywhere – that it is doing more than its predecessors to tackle the cost of childcare.

But a recent report by the Pre-school Learning Alliance shaded this claim, and said that the government’s free childcare scheme was facing “chronic underfunding”.

Job ad confirms Apple Pay is on its way

December 19th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

apple pay 300x169 Job ad confirms Apple Pay is on its wayApple have effectively let the cat out of the bag as regards Apple Pay coming to Europe.

An advert on the company’s website, which has now been taken down, said that the company was seeking a London-based intern to “drive out the roll-out” of Apple Pay across Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa.

It said: “Apple Pay is a new and exciting area in Apple that is set to expand across Europe, Middle East, India and Africa.”

“Apple Pay will change the way consumers pay with breakthrough contactless payment technology and unique security features built right into their iPhone 6 or Apple Watch to pay in an easy, secure, and private way.”

Apple Pay is two services that need close links between Apple and the banks.

The first is an in-app payment tool, which developers can implement to allow customers to make purchases without entering credit card details. In apps such as Uber, users will instead be able to pay by simply tapping the touch ID sensor of an iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3.

The other allows users to buy items in stores using their NFC-enabled iPhone 6, or their Apple Watch – which is yet to go on sale.

Over in the states, Apple have been making sure that retailers have the sufficient hardware handy. Whereas in Europe, we’re a bit ahead technology wise, and it’s expected to less hassle to launch.

Oh, the future is more trouble than it’s worth.

Post Office card account renewed until 2021

December 17th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

postoffice10a 300x180 Post Office card account renewed until 2021The government have confirmed that the Post Office card account will continue until at least November 2021

The previous contract between the government and the Post Office had been due to expire in March 2015, but crisis has been averted and now been extended to the new date in the future.

The card is a lifeline for those 2.5 million people – at least half of those being pensioners – who have no truck with banks

The account allows holders to get their cash out at the Post Office’s 11,500 branches or 2,500 cash machines.

Pensions Minister Steve Webb welcomed the news, saying: “Although most people have a bank account, there are certain groups for whom this is not viable and, for them, the Post Office card account provides an important lifeline,”

He also threw in the bonus news of the contract costing 10% cheaper than previously, but the amount paid to subpostmasters per transaction remained the same.

George Thomson, general secretary of the National Federation of Subpostmasters, said: “The renewal of the Post Office Card Account will help provide the Post Office network with a more stable future.”

Barclaycard road-testing tap and pay gloves

December 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

barclaycard gloves 300x180 Barclaycard road testing tap and pay glovesAll you’ll need is gloves, if a batcrap trial currently being conducted by Barclaycard has its way.

The bank are trialling a prototype glove that will ‘tap and pay’ like shoppers would do with contactless cards.

Barclaycard’s cashless mittens are embedded with a small contactless chip that can be linked to a credit or debit card. And look so, so stylish.

You can use them to pay for items up to £20 which all sounds a bit of an effort to be honest.

They are presently being tested on guinea pig shoppers (not people shopping for actual guinea pigs) in the UK and may take off next year if they go down well.

Barclaycard added that it is working on, rather sexistly, ‘his and hers’ versions of the gloves, with the women’s version having a softer and more ‘fleecy’ appearance than the men’s.

Mike Saunders, managing director of digital consumer payments at Barclaycard, said that the gloves “could be bringing some festive cheer to bag-laden shoppers by Christmas 2015″. No, honest. He did.

The company had previously announced that they have already been testing out bPay wristbands. Oh they might as well just turn us all into cyborgs and be done with it, eh readers?

HMRC blasted for helpline hopelessness

December 15th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

TAX MONKEYS HMRC blasted for helpline hopelessness Which!!! have thrown shade on Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) helpline service.

The tax helpline has been criticised in a new report by the watchdog of consumers, saying that there had been little improvement in the service since they met up in July with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which served them a scathing review of their lengthy waiting times and shoddiness in answering phone calls, which were costing customers £136 million a year.

The service will be in heavy demand in the next two months, as thousands will be completing their self-assessment tax returns before January 31st.

HMRC’s chief executive Lin Homer, reckons that they had been improving the service in recent months.

However, Which!!!’s report details that 29% of calls made by their members, were cut off by an automated answering system carping on about the lines being busy.

Where there were 71 instances of callers not being cut off, they were then put on hold for an average of 18 minutes, with one caller being held hostage for 41 minutes. PAC chairwoman Margaret Hodge said: “Customers of Government services should be able to contact those services easily and cheaply.”

Hopeless.

FCA taking action to stop payday loan hassles

December 2nd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

stock payday loans 300x225 FCA taking action to stop payday loan hasslesThe Financial Conduct Authority has stepped in and taken emergency action to handle payday loan nefariousness.

The FCA have come in to tackle some blatantly unfair pricing scenes

The loan brokers have made as many as one million attempts a month to raid the bank accounts of some of the poorest members of society, who they’ve hoodwinked into having loans.

The payday loaners also charge a fee of around £50-75 and then will share people’s bank details with up to 200 companies. Which is not on, frankly.

The financial regulator has said it had blocked seven payday loan brokers from taking on new business, with three in line for further enforcement action. Sounds sexy.

According to NatWest, they reckon they were being contacted daily in October, by vulnerable customers being hounded by extra charges.

The FCA has said new rules would come into force on 2 January 2015, and would end the lack of clear information on the websites currently luring people into paying fees they’re not aware of.

The rules will ban credit brokers from charging fees to customers, and from requesting customers’ bank details unless they comply with new requirements. Transparency is key and people have to make it clear who they are dealing with, what fee will be payable, and when and how the fee will be payable.

The FCA said that over 40% of consumer credit complaints received were about credit brokers: “The FCA has also received relevant intelligence from consumer groups and others who are seeing increasing complaints from people who have had money taken from their accounts unexpectedly and often by more than one broker.”

RBS NatWest are the first bank to shade up the shady, and has terminated arrangements with 20 brokers already, but it’s a slippery affair as these companies are like eels.

Santander offering cashback

November 12th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

santander logo Santander offering cashback Santander customers can now earn up to 15% cashback on spending at their favourite shops.

The Retailer’s Offer scheme is open to their debit and credit card customers, who can pick out their favourite stores from a list of 100 or so, such as Argos, New Look, Hertz, Patisserie Valerie and Heals.

There’ll be a handful of personalised offers each month, which will be based on what the get up to in the high street.

The move by Santander follows in the footsteps of Halifax, Lloyds Bank and Natwest, which also launched rewards schemes in recent months.

Santander already offers their 123 customers 1% for supermarket shops, 2% for department stores and 3% for TfL, National Rail and petrol.

It also pays 1% on water, council tax and Santander mortgage payments, a higher rate of 2% on gas and electricity bills and 3% on mobile, home phone, broadband and paid for TV packages.

The perk is offered to both new and existing account holders for free through their online banking so you can’t just shout “BUT I’M WITH SANTANDER!” at a shopkeeper and demand cash back. Click here to find out more.

Childcare and subsidies for families, say CBI

November 10th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

HAPPY FAMILY Childcare and subsidies for families, say CBIThe government has to upgrade living standards for Britain’s hard working families with £7bn of tax cuts and childcare subsidies, otherwise they will rescind the right to bang on about ‘hard working families’, according to the CBI.

The group reckon that some fairly radical ideas need to be dreamt up and implemented, as families and low-income workers are forever at the wrong end of the crap-stick, financially.

It is calling for changes to national insurance, an extension of free childcare and extended maternity pay as measures that would make an immediate difference.

In a new report called A Better Off Britain, John Cridland, the director general, said: “The financial crisis and the slow recovery have hit people’s finances hard. Living standards will gradually improve as the economy does. But growth on its own will not be the miracle cure.”

The CBI is also calling for a gradual increase in the threshold at which employees pay national insurance to £10,500 – bringing it line with the income tax personal allowance – over the next parliament.

It is estimated that this would bring in an extra £363 a year. While not staggering, it’s better than nothing.

The CBI is also calling for an extension of the 15 hours a week of free childcare for three and four-year-olds to all one and two-year-olds, saving the average family with a one-year-old £3,430 a year. As well as recommending statutory maternity pay be extended from nine to 12 months, closing the gap between when maternity pay ends and financial assistance for childcare kicks in.

Cridland went on to say that despite the expense to the Treasury – about £7bn over the next parliament – the measures did not amount to the government abandoning its deficit reduction plans.

“Tackling the deficit is an absolute priority, but I don’t think it’s an either/or debate. We need to be more ambitious about the ways we tackle the deficit. Deficit reduction doesn’t have to be cut and slash.”

The average couple with two children saw their real income fall by £2,132 a year between 2009-10 and 2012-13 according to the CBI. Inflation has outpaced wage growth for much of the period since 2008.

He also hit out at large companies who refuse to pay the minimum wage: “The National Minimum Wage is about ability to pay. The Living Wage is what people need to earn. Should companies pay the Living Wage if they are able to? Yes. I would encourage them to. Can it ever be more than an encouragement? No.”

New Queen on coins from next year

November 7th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

There is going to be a new Queen on the coins as of next year.

Well, strictly speaking it will be a new image of Queen Elizabeth “II”, rather than a brand new monarch, but you get the drift.

It’s the first new portrait since 1998, and only the fifth image to be commissioned during her 62 year tenure.

Designs have already been submitted by specialist designers for the new portrait, and the winner will be revealed by the Royal Mint Advisory in the new year.

The current portrait of the Queen was created by Ian Rank-Broadley and has been in circulation for 16 years.

In September, the Royal Mint launched a public design competition to find designs for the reverse side of the coins, with the winner to receive a ten grand fee for their design, which – lordy – will stay in circulation for around 30 years.

We hope they use the photo where she looks like a Sith from Star Wars.

o POUND COIN facebook 500x250 New Queen on coins from next year

child saving money 300x204 Child maintenance dodgers could be declined creditParents who neglect their child maintenance payments may end up being turned down for mortgages, credit cards and loans under new government plans.

The government wants to be able to share information with credit agencies, which will then be used by banks as back-up to determine whether they offer cash to the customer.

If that sounds a bit hardcore, even a missed or late payment on a mobile phone bill can be enough to cause somebody to be declined credit.

Child maintenance minister Steve Webb said: “For too long, a minority of absent parents have got away with failing to pay maintenance, leaving families without that financial support,”

Naturally the government being the government, they expect this move will also act as a deterrent to others from stopping child maintenance payments in the future.

“I would hope that we see this power used very little, because the deterrent effect of a possible negative mark on a person’s credit rating will convince those who have previously failed to pay towards their children’s upbringing to do the right thing.”

The record of a missed payment won’t appear on a credit record until a liability order is made against them.

Nationwide launch a smartwatch app

November 6th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

nationwide app 300x168 Nationwide launch a smartwatch appThe future has turned up at Nationwide, who are launching the first app for an Android smartwatch.

You can now – if you bank with Nationwide that is, if not then move along – check your finances while on the move, or on the run from muggers.

You obviously need an Android Wear watch running Android 4.3, but the app is free, so that’s a nice bonus.

The app is available now, and is apparently quite easy to setup, so soon you’ll be shouting for your balance at your wrist or sobbing loudly in toilet cubicles at your overdraft fees.

Chief Operating Officer at Nationwide Tony Prestedge said: “Providing customers with a variety of ways to manage their money, whenever and however they want is a priority for us. Giving those members who want and have the technology the ability to check their balance on their watch provides them with even more choice as to how they interact with us whether it is online, through an app, face-to-face or over the phone.”

Fnarr. He said ‘members’.

HSBC profits affected by crimes of the past

November 4th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

HSBC HSBC profits affected by crimes of the pastBank trouble again, with HSBC stepping into the spotlight with their tale of mis-selling woe.

The bank’s profits didn’t quite gain the heights that were expected after they’d put aside $1.8 billion (£1.5 billion) to pay back compensation to customers as well as a possible fine for rigging the currency markets.

This does however indicate that regulators are generally stepping up to the mark and shaming bad banks and banking. If only they’d been this tough, say, six years ago.

HSBC reckon they’d spent $700 million more this year on compliance and risk than a year ago, and that level of expense looked set to stay, meaning it would miss one of its main cost targets.

HSBC said its forex investigation provision covered “detailed” talks with Britain’s financial regulator about alleged manipulation in the $5.3 trillion-a-day forex market.

The talks were in relation to systems and controls in one part of its spot forex business in London, it said. Last month HSBC fired two traders in London, sources said.

Shall we see what excuses CEO Stuart Gulliver is bleating?: “The cost base of a global bank like ourselves is higher than it was before, because … it includes a significantly higher compliance and regulatory cost than historically the banks had invested in,”

“It reflects the fact that standards, foreign policy, etc, all evolve in a world that is a lot less certain than it was 10, 15 years ago.”

HSBC added 1,400 more compliance staff in the third quarter and now had 24,800 staff in risk and compliance, or one in 10 of its employees. That’s heartwarming really, that the growth sector of banking-based employment is down to the bank themselves ripping its customers off.

We look forward to all our terms and conditions being updated in the coming weeks across the banking sector while they all fiddle with more margins and charges to claw some money back from our accounts, to atone for their mess-ups.