NatWest bank is reported to be testing a new app-based banking platform called ‘Mettle’ that combines banking with other business services, and is specifically aimed at the needs of SMEs.
Mettle – Independent From NatWest Bank
Mettle is the first standalone banking app to be launched by one of the UK’s big retail banking brands, and is described by Mettle as a “forward-looking business current account”.
The new SME-focused banking platform is to be run independently from NatWest, is not a bank but operates as an agent under an e-money licence held by PrePay Solutions, and is being developed in partnership with 11:FS and Capco.
The pilot of the new mobile-app based Mettle service has been rolled out to between 100 and 150 existing and new customers, and their feedback will be taken into account before a general roll-out to the public.
According to Alison Rose, CEO of commercial and private banking at NatWest, the premise for the Mettle banking app is that it will provide customers with data they can use to make business decisions and to let “customers focus on forward-looking finances, combining technology and proactive insights so that SMEs can make better decisions and run their businesses more successfully”.
Other reasons for introducing Mettle are that:
- Greater awareness of and trust in fintech (financial technology) in the market place, and rapidly advancing technology and a trend towards ‘mobile everything’ mean that traditional banks need to adapt to more customer-focused services, and feel that they can now diversify their offerings.
- Large banks such as NatWest need to head-off the threat of fast-growing challenger banks such as Monzo, Starling and Revolut.
Apart from the obvious convenience aspect of being able to use a mobile banking app, some of the key features that could make Mettle popular among SMEs are:
- The account is free and fast to open, and can be operated just using a mobile app and a debit card.
- Receipts can be added to customer transactions and expenses can be tracked straight from the phone.
- Customers can lock and unlock their card from their phone with a single tap.
- It offers other business tools to help SMEs stay on top of a current account.
- It offers SMEs a maximum balance of £50,000 and a maximum pay out of £10,000.
- Mettle has the backing of a big banking brand.
Limitations (many of which may be temporary due to it being at the pilot stage) include that Mettle:
- Offers no overdrafts or interest.
- Limits cash withdrawals to £500 a day and £4,000 a month.
- Is currently by invitation only (after interest has been registered online).
How To Open A Mettle Account
At the moment, opening a Mettle account involves going to www.mettle.co.uk, clicking on “register your interest” and entering your email when prompted. After this, Mettle will email you a list of questions to understand the nature of your business, and will let you know whether you can be part of the first group of users with early access.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
If you’re an SME, this kind of account could provide a much faster and more convenient way of operating and staying on top of your finances, and it has been designed specifically with the needs of SMEs in mind. It also offers other helpful business insights that a simple bank current account doesn’t and, therefore, could help SME business decision-making.
For the big banks, app-based systems enable them to keep up with consumer trends and needs, aid customer retention and with the attraction of new customers, and fight-off competition from the other big banks and fast-growing challenger banks.