Bank Comparison Survey ‘22: RBS Bank Voted Britain’s Worst Provider of Current Accounts, Monzo / Starling Lead

Royal Bank of Scotland comes out underneath challenger banks.

August 18, 2022
Bank Comparison Survey ‘22: RBS Bank Voted Britain’s Worst Provider of Current Accounts, Monzo / Starling Lead
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Royal Bank of Scotland comes out underneath challenger banks Monzo and Starling Banks, in a recent customer survey of 1,000 users.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (review) found itself placed in the bottom position of current account providers in Britain by the competition watchdog.

RBS was placed as a born pick for numerous reasons, including being the worst of all providers due to its level of customer service, branch availability, overdraft features and accessibility online and across the web. The RBS banking group is a subdivision of NatWest, which itself is 48.1 per cent owned by the British government.

Virgin Money (review) also found itself at the bottom of the chasm, due to the quality of its service, while TSB ranked only one position over Virgin in this customer survey which is run twice a year.

The Competition and Markets Authority facilitated the survey by commissioning a polling company Ipsos Mori tasked with surveying 1,000 banking users across 16 of Britain’s biggest current account providers, with the objective of helping customers compare the different banking services.

  • Starling and Monzo (comparison review guide) Banks rated in the joint first place position — 81% of users said they would use these banks.
  • Starling Bank (review) topped the survey for the quality of its mobile and online banking, with Monzo (review) coming in the second position on this criteria.
  • Barclays performs relatively well but still finds itself thoroughly outdone by challenger banks.
  • Old banking names are generally losing ground to new upstarts, according to the survey. RBS scored the worst of all rating for its overdraft services and in-branch offerings, according to the survey. While Virgin Money scored the worst for the quality of its mobile and online banking offerings. 
  • Tesco Bank (review) won the previous survey for the best overall bank but no longer has current accounts offered to customers.

Growing competition from challenger banks

The survey ran between the summers of 2021 and 2022, where customers were questioned on the probability that they would recommend their current banking provider. 

Results came in. For Virgin Money and RBS, only 46% and 49% respectively said that they would recommend these providers for current account holding. TSB, which came in third place, faired only a little better, with only half of its customers recommending the bank. 

RBS scored the worst of all rating for its overdraft services and in-branch offerings, according to the survey. While Virgin Money scored the worst for the quality of its mobile and online banking offerings. 

Joint winners of the number one spot, challenger banks Monzo and Starling Bank, by comparison, received an 81% recommendation rating from the users. Starling Bank topped the survey for the quality of its mobile and online banking, with Monzo coming in the second position on this criteria.

The CMA’s Adam Land recommended that customers pay attention to the quality of their service as the cost of living crisis in Britain tightens.

These results show how banks are treating their customers at a time when many are feeling the pinch.

Adam Land, CMA

Adam added that in tough times, you have a clear idea of who is putting its customers first. He suggested that if your bank does not meet after standards, then you can vote with your feet and switch to a better provider. 

The survey runs twice a year. In the previous window before the latest results, the CME report found in February 2021 (surveying customers during the length of 2021) that Tesco Bank was ranked as the best of war bag. But Tesco Bank is no longer featured on the survey because it closed its current accounts last year. 

A spokesman for RBS admitted that the bank could improve its customer experience in particular areas. And added that the bank is committed to investing in making improvements, with a special team being assigned to target key problem areas where the company is not meeting expectations. 

Whereas a spokesperson for Virgin Money said that Virgin is determined to do the same. The spokesperson said that the company is confident that its digital innovations and customer offerings will prop up how well customers receive them.

A spokesperson for TSB (review) said something similar, specifically pointing out that the company is upgrading the branch network offerings, updating its digital offerings and continuing to generally improve its service.

Takeaway — hyper-advantage of digital-only banks

A few of the key features offered by the challenger banks include some of the following:

Saving time

Time spent visiting a bank branch, and waiting in a busy queue on the weekend, is also a hallmark experience that is quintessentially British. Travel-friendly digital-only banks caught the traditional banking sector unawares — employing intake and encryption technologies to ruthlessly cut down the registration time needed to apply and open up a new account.

In some cases, proof of address is not even needed. Challenger banks like Monzo and Starling require only a few things. Starling bank for instance only requires a passport as a form of ID and your smartphone number. You are approved in a matter of minutes and then you can receive your new card in days.

This is especially important during times of high financial squeezes and a living crisis in Britain. In some cases, people are even living in their cars. So having a way to handle your finances digitally without needing proof of address opens up this market to the growing fringe. Special accounts for 16 to 17-year-olds are also offered.

Convenience and self-management

If you need customer support, there’s no need to call or visit a bank branch. Instead, you just connect to administrative assistance inside the app, which is available around the clock. Mobile banking is built for fast-paced living; work gets done in a few taps.

Rather than going to the bank for everything, you can do all from your phone: check up on your balance, manage direct debits, set up a new payment and integrate your e-wallet accounts, eg. Paypal.

Traditional banking did not keep pace with the speed of these digital-only banking intake innovations which have made these day-to-day sequences enormously more efficient. Although, they have taken note and are playing catch up. 

Instant updates

The boomer and gen-x crowd may still be calling up their bank over the phone in order to get an audible reading of their bank balance and online statements, not to mention setting up a new payment contact or standing order.

Or in some cases, logging into the laptop and having to remember complicated account details. By comparison, all you need to log into your digital-only bank is a four-digit pin code.

In these apps, see all of your latest balances and instantly view your outgoings, which reveals what you have spent in real-time as you spend it. No need to wait three days to get an accurate representation of your account balance.

Hyper-efficient replacement service for lost cards

Once again, if your card is lost there is no need to call up and wait in a phone queue in order to get a new card issued. Or to deal with tedious automated phone services. These digital-only services, owing to the fact that they have no physical branch, have sharpened their app services to a point of efficiency that is quite remarkable.

Simply freeze your debit card inside of the app. This gives you time to look for it. If you find it, unlock it in a single tap. However, if it really is lost only a new card can be sent in a few taps, and delivered to your post box, within three days.

Strong encryption and security

Online banking security is one of the leading concerns of users. Having the only barrier to your bank being four digits is not an intuitively inviting idea. Can your payments and transfers be counted on when sending money, especially globally?

Leading digital-only banks offer you transparency fees with a secured exchange rate. And there are many layers of security in the apps. 


Although underrated, this is perhaps one of the most powerful reasons why these digital-only apps have taken charge. Michael saving technology has been booming in the US especially. These digital-only banks are very quick to incorporate such innovations. They often do it much faster than traditional banking does.

For instance, while there was no dedicated micro-investment service in Britain, to rival the US’ Acorns service (which PayPal backed in a round of funding), pretty much all of their offerings crossover. For instance, both Monzo and Starling bank offer rounding up to the nearest pound.

This feature has it so that, any money left to the nearest pounds after you make a payment is automatically sent to a savings account.

As for budgeting and money goals, these are all standard. Create savings pots, where you can see a progress bar to reach the desired target. Set direct debits to be drawn from specific parts, so that you always know how much real money you have in your current account. And add images so that you can visualise your goal.

And spending insights give you an idea of what habits you have that may be working for and against you. For instance, are you spending a lot of money on coffee? Your spending is automatically categorised according to the type. You can filter when you review and also assign specific labels to specific purchases that you make on a regular basis.

Splitting the bill

Another innovative technology that challenger banks have adopted. This lets you split the bill with your friends, for instance, to share the cost of a meal. This gets rid of the awkwardness of arranging who owes who what. No need to swap bank details or emails — simply use the single link and you’re good to go.

For all of these reasons, challenger banks have swept the market and absorbed a lot of the user base that traditional banks previously had. This is particularly true with younger generations. It can’t be overstressed how important it is that people have a way to efficiently manage their finances in sophisticated ways as a living squeeze tightens.

Our prediction?

As a living squeeze tightens its jaws on the average person, digital-only banks may see a further increase in their growing hegemony in this market. My reasoning is that as stress grows, people inevitably will look for ways to minimise the complexities involved in handling their finances.

Some of the insights, budgeting and technological leverages found in these apps are quite remarkable. This space is definitely one to keep an eye on. There seems to be exhaustion amongst the older vanguards as the British economy folds in on itself. Banking collapses are not impossible in the foreseeable future either.

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