Innovative German digital bank Fidor, which planned to launch in Britain by the end of March, has had its plans delayed as it has not yet secured access to the UK payments infrastructure according to reports.
The Daily Telegraph says that the big four UK banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS – act as sponsor banks with direct access to payments systems and none has accepted Fidor as a customer.
Frank Schwab, chief executive (CEO) of Fidor’s technology subsidiary TecS, told the paper that the problems the bank had encountered were unexpected. “We did not know that it was such a challenge, we only found out once we started the project,” he said.
Schwab added that the obstacles presented by the payments infrastructure were “very specific to the UK market”. Despite the delay, he said that a UK launch was “now close” and the lender would certainly be operating there before the end of 2015.
Fidor was originally launched in 2007 in Germany, and has since expanded via a joint venture in Russia. Once operations began in UK, the bank also plans to launch in the US later this year.
The Telegraph reports that company chose the UK as its next destination because of London’s innovative financial technology scene, which it believes is more open to the kind of products it has developed than its home markets. Unlikely in Germany where savers can choose between some 2,000 banks, in the UK Fidor will only have to compete with around 10, according to Schwab.
He also told the daily that traditional banks have failed to adapt to an audience hooked on social media. Fidor aims to pick up the kind of saver who uses Facebook every day, and businesses who sell their wares with an eBay or Amazon store and believes the UK, particularly in London, offers a prime target audience.
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