Why Is Getting a UK Bank Account as a Foreigner so Hard?

If you have ever tried to open a bank account in the UK as a foreigner, chances are you’ve been asked to present a pile of documents, visit the branch a couple of times, prove your address and employment status and wait. Wait for a few days or even weeks before you can get your account opened – if at all. Why all this hassle?

Why it’s so slow

The slow service of high street banks can largely be explained by the fact that they operate on decades-old legacy systems. These systems set certain limits to how fast the banks can update their technologies and processes to meet the needs of a tech-savvy, busy, and constantly on the move customer of the modern day. The systems are so big, it is impossible for the banks to update them without huge costs, or risking the service being unavailable for a good while. That’s why the banks have chosen to build “extensions” to put off addressing the core for as long as they can.

Naturally, these extensions are not an ideal solution and aren’t therefore doing much to help innovate the high street banks. That’s why they still need you to visit the branch and present a myriad of documents from utility bills to proof of employment so that they could process the documents and run the necessary background checks manually. This makes opening a simple bank account tremendously slow, especially if you’re new in the country.

Why it’s so difficult

Usually, even the simplest current accounts in the UK are offered with overdraft, which allows the customer to temporarily withdraw more money from the account than his balance would allow. The customer then needs to pay it back with interest within a fixed time frame. The problem with this is that as overdraft is a loan product, it is harder for the bank to let a foreigner without a local credit score or a provable local address into the system.

This is where being new in the country can make opening an account an insurmountable challenge. International students and foreign specialists are often thrown by the difficulty. When arriving in the UK, expats often share a flat with a friend or two and if they don’t happen to have their name on the utility bills every month, chances are they will not be able to open even a simple current account.

Although there are better, cheaper and faster alternatives out there that could help banks make adequate background checks even without the customer’s local postal address, they are unable to use them largely because their systems were not built to integrate with such technologies.

What’s the solution?

That’s where Monese comes in. We understand that a safe place to keep your money is an essential part of everyday life, no matter what your circumstances are. We also understand the high street banks’ inability to cater for that need, especially when it comes to expatriates.

That’s why we are building our systems from scratch to offer real-time, super quick and convenient UK current account opening on your mobile device. We run all customer checks online, so you never need to visit a branch at all. When we launch, we are open to all EU residents and the account is opened in minutes. Your account at Monese is free of any monthly charges and it comes with mobile banking and a VISA debit card. We are FCA approved and we keep your money in strong partner banks, so you can always be sure it is safe and sound.

We launch this summer, so if you haven’t signed up for our invite yet, visit www.monese.com and claim your spot on the list.

Image source: Flickr / Alex E. Proimos

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