After months of speculation, JPMorgan Chase has launched its digital bank in the UK in a move that sees the financial giant move into direct competition with British mainstays like HSBC, Barclays, Natwest, Lloyds and popular startups like Monzo and Starling.
Gordon Smith, CEO of Consumer & Community Banking and co-President of JPMorgan Chase, was buoyant about the company’s growth into the UK.
Speaking at the beginning of 2021, Smith said: “We are bringing Chase to the U.K. because we want to provide customers with a new banking choice – one that will enable them to benefit from a simple and exceptional banking experience, built on the significant capabilities of JPMorgan Chase. The U.K. has a vibrant and highly competitive consumer banking marketplace, which is why we’ve designed the bank from scratch to specifically meet the needs of customers here.”
In a bid to ensure that the move into UK markets goes smoothly, JPMorgan Chase appointed Sanoke Viswanathan to the role of CEO of the digital bank, having previously been Chief Administrative Officer and Head of Strategy at JP Morgan’s Corporate & Investment Bank.
The digital bank has been headquartered in London’s Canary Wharf, and customers will be capable of communicating with the company’s purpose-built customer contact centre in Edinburgh. JPMorgan has a considerable presence in the UK already – with some 400 jobs created domestically and more in place for the future.
News of the strategic expansion saw shares in JPMorgan climb from around $152.96 to $167.35 per share at the time of writing, with the banking giants already enjoying some 32.95% growth in the 2021 calendar year.
The transition towards UK markets would see JPMorgan come into direct competition with some huge players across the financial ecosystem – as well as some successful and scaling fintechs. With this in mind, is it possible that the banking giants may come unstuck in the United Kingdom?
Weighing into the crowded UK financial ecosystem
JPMorgan’s move into the UK’s market follows in the footsteps of the company’s major US rival, Goldman Sachs – which crossed the Atlantic to offer savings accounts in the UK in 2018.
However, JPMorgan is the latest in a range of US banking leaders looking to generate significant returns in investment banking with steadier retail revenues. However, the path to market dominance in the United Kingdom will be far from easy, with the industry already gridlocked with key institutions like Barclays, NatWest, Lloyds and HSBC among many more popular entities.
So, can JPMorgan capitalize on UK markets despite such intense levels of competition domestically? Maxim Manturov, head of investment research at Freedom Finance Europe believes the company has an excellent chance to assert itself in Britain:
“The decision to launch a digital retail bank in the UK marks a significant step forward in introducing retail products to UK consumers for the first time,” Manturov said. “It will undoubtedly provide the company with the opportunity to compete for market share in a competitive environment, but thanks to its name and strong reputation, the company has a strong chance of success in this direction. While digital banking has become more common, JPM discovered that the stability and reliability of a banking service provider remains a key factor for consumers.”
“Chase has a one-of-a-kind opportunity to make a difference for British consumers by combining the trust of a respected and trusted bank with exceptional customer service. Starting with a new approach to current accounts, the bank wants to provide a variety of products. The Chase UK Customer Support Centre will play a key part in the offering, giving quick access and personalized service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
There’s some optimism that the arrival of JPMorgan will be good news for the UK in terms of the quality of new financial products that the banking giants are likely to bring to the table. It’s also likely to bolster the level of competition among existing institutions across the landscape. However, for emerging fintechs like Revolut, Starling and PayPal, the emergence of another globally renowned name may eat into their growing user base.
However, Financial Times data suggests that JPMorgan is arriving at a time when the existing banking hegemony is already growing to steal the market share from smaller organizations. The data above, which charts the share of gross mortgage lending for properties in the UK, shows that industry leaders like HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest and Barclays are all showing varying degrees of growth between 2015 and 2020.
This indicates that the arrival of JPMorgan may, in fact, help to break the dominance of domestic banks and to pave the way for better financial products and services due to the fiercer competition. In this regard, JPMorgan’s bid to break Britain may well be a timely one for the industry across the UK.