Virgin Money launches fight against “Big Four” banks with business account offering

Virgin Money has announced plans to step up its fight against the “Big Four” banks with an assault on the small business market and the launch of a new digital current account.

The company, created following the collapsed Northern Rock, had previously put plans for a business account on ice amid uncertainty following the Brexit referendum.

But today it said it will launch a savings account for SMEs in January, followed by a business current account later next year. It plans to attract £5bn of deposits from business customers in the next five years.

Virgin Money said there was an opportunity for a “customer-focused disruptor” to take market share from its larger rivals by offering “service and value for customers”.

The bank is also working on a new digital platform it said could give it an edge on the Big Four, which it plans to launch in 2019.

A “universal account” will allow customers to create partitions to keep money for bills separate from their day-to-day expenses and use a “smart ledger” to get a better sense of what they are spending money on each month.

It faces competition in this area from new app-based start-ups like Atom Bank and Monzo, but chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia said Virgin Money’s existing scale and digital experience meant it was well-positioned to hold its own in the market.

“Traditional banks are investing in digital transformation but are burdened by legacy systems; whilst digital start-ups currently lack the customer base to disrupt the sector on any significant scale,” she said.

The government has also been urging banks to lend more to smaller companies in a bid to improve Britain’s prospects of selling its goods abroad after the country exits the European Union.

In July international trade secretary Liam Fox announced a partnership with five large lenders – not including Virgin Money – designed to enable smaller suppliers to British exporters to deliver products to their clients more efficiently.