Many banks have stopped accepting new applications for business bank accounts since the coronavirus pandemic surged in the UK.
This is predominantly down to increased demand for government-backed emergency loans like Bounce Back Loans and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans. Banks are focusing on providing these and tending to their existing customers’ most pressing needs.
Which banks are still offering business bank accounts?
SmallBusiness.co.uk has spoken to the following banks to find out where they stand on accepting business bank account applications.
HSBC closed applications for new business bank accounts on September 30.
An HSBC UK spokesperson said: “Since the introduction of the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, we have given over £12bn of lending to the UK’s businesses, as part of an overall £20bn package supporting our business and personal customers. As one of the only banks that remained open to applications from all UK businesses since the scheme’s launch, we received a huge level of demand. With the scheme closing on 30 November, we need to focus our resources on fulfilling existing applications. We are no longer accepting new applications for Bounce Back Loans from companies that don’t have an existing HSBC business account and we will also stop taking on any new small business banking customers until 14th December. Applications submitted before 30th September 2020 will continue to be processed.”
Metro Bank were opening business accounts for new to bank customers up until last Friday (October 9th). They’ve now put a temporary pause on opening these accounts.
A Metro Bank spokesperson said: “As a result of the significant surge in demand we’re seeing from businesses opening new accounts with us, we’re not able to accept further new business account applications in store or online at the moment.
“With the government lending schemes drawing to a close later this year, we need to ensure we can continue to support our existing customers, the pipeline of new account applications already in progress and associated Bounce Back Loan applications which we’re continuing to fulfil. We expect to reopen for new applications early in the New Year.”
A Lloyds spokesperson told us that they stopped accepting application at the start of the pandemic. This is so that they can see to existing customers with urgent needs. They said they would open business bank accounts again at the appropriate time.
RBS and NatWest aren’t accepting new applications for business accounts at the moment.
A NatWest spokesperson commented: “We know this is a difficult and stressful time for our smallest business customers, and we’ve been working tirelessly to deliver the government schemes in a secure and robust way – successfully supporting 23 per cent of all lending across the three schemes. Due to the volume of these applications, we continue to prioritise our existing customers in regards to the government schemes.”
Santander’s website says: “We are not currently accepting new applications for Business Current Accounts, but we will review this position over the coming weeks and further details will be available on our website.”
TSB’s website says: “Sorry, we are only accepting Business Current Account applications from existing TSB Personal Current Account customers at this time. If you don’t already have an account with TSB we won’t be able to accept your application for a Business Current Account. This is to allow us to focus on supporting our existing customers through this unprecedented time. If you submitted an application before 28th September we will be in touch. We will update our website as soon as we are able to open accounts for new customers.”
Barclays are accepting applications, but they too are experiencing increased demand.
A spokesperson for Barclays said: “We are accepting business current account customers but experiencing as delay due to high levels of demand.”
What about digital banking platforms?
The use of digital banking platforms increased throughout the 2010s with more millennials seeking mobile-friendly banking apps. What’s more, according to a recent Direct Line survey, nearly half of young people want to become entrepreneurs. One in five have either started a new business since lockdown or plan to start one by the beginning of 2021.
With all of this in mind, it’ll be interesting to see whether this will be an opportunity for digital platforms to take a greater share of the market or if business customers across the board will remain loyal to the better-known high street banks.