Top 10 Banks in the UK

FinTech Magazine runs through the leading UK-based banks in 2024
FinTech Magazine runs through the leading UK-based banks in 2024, those driving market size upwards, and focused on technology to drive positive change

The UK has faced a series of market and macroeconomic changes over the past few years, from the implications of Brexit to the headwinds brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite the often tumultuous impacts on the UK economy, the market size of the UK banking industry increased by 14% in 2023, with market size – based on revenue – rising to £120bn (US$153bn). 

This is an industry in the midst of a digital transformation too – with many leading institutions evolving infrastructures by adopting multi-hybrid cloud solutions and integrating AI into various organisational functions. What’s more, sustainability and ESG must be front of mind for today’s leading financial institutions.

In this Top 10, we look at the banks in the UK with leading revenues, propelling market size upwards and successfully integrating the latest technologies, while keeping sustainability front-of-mind. 

10. Metro Bank

Metro Bank

Metro Bank is one of leading high street institutions in the UK today, having only been founded in 2010 by Anthony Thomson and Vernon Hill. Championing an in-person banking experience through its network of branches, this doesn’t mean the bank hasn’t implemented technologies along the way. In 2021, the bank launched new invoicing technology for its business customers via its mobile app, and its partnership with HCL Tech has enabled it to drive continuous innovation and enhance customer experiences. 

9. First Direct

First Direct

Launched in 1989, First Direct is a pioneering telephone and internet bank that was part of Midland Bank (now part of HSBC UK). It was the UK's first 24-hour direct banking service, allowing customers to manage their finances without visiting branches. Under CEO Chris Pitt's leadership, the branchless bank aims to double its customer base to 3 million by 2026, targeting younger demographics through improved digital presence and competitive product offerings like high-interest savings accounts and flexible mortgages.

8. Halifax

Halifax

Halifax, founded in 1853 as the Halifax Permanent Benefit Building and Investment Society, is a major UK bank operating as a division of Lloyds Banking Group. Originally a building society, Halifax demutualised and became a bank in 1997, later merging with the Bank of Scotland in 2001 to form HBOS. In 2009, HBOS was acquired by Lloyds TSB, with Halifax continuing as a brand under the Lloyds Banking Group umbrella. The bank has implemented innovative technologies such as heartbeat authentication for secure online banking, allowing customers to complete ID verification using unique electrocardiogram patterns.

7. Santander UK

Santander UK

Santander UK aims to be the best open financial services platform providing services to individuals, SMEs, corporates, financial institutions and governments. The bank’s purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. The UK arm of Banco Santander, the bank is building a more responsible organisation and has made many commitments to support this objective, including raising €220bn (US$239bn) in green financing between 2019 and 2030. At the end of 2023, Banco Santander had €1.3tn (US$1.41tn) in total funds, 165 million customers, 8,500 branches and over 212,000 employees. Today, it laying the groundwork for a digital future.

6. Nationwide

Nationwide

The UK’s leading mutual financial institution, Nationwide Building Society continues to prioritise its members’ interests by pledging to keep all of its branches open until at least 2026. The building society has kept digital innovation a leading focus too, enhancing its online and mobile banking platforms by offering seamless services like invoicing for businesses. Committed to environmental responsibility, the bank aims to generate £15bn (US$19bn) in sustainable finance by 2024. 

5. Royal Bank of Scotland

RBS

The Royal Bank of Scotland, founded in 1727 through a royal charter in Edinburgh, is a major retail and commercial bank in Scotland. It operates around 700 branches, primarily in Scotland but also in major towns across England and Wales. Today, despite a string of controversies over bailouts, bonuses and branch closures, RBS offers a range of personal and business banking services, aiming to support Scotland's economic development under the NatWest Group umbrella.

4. Barclays

Barclays

The roots of Barclays can be traced back to 1690 when a goldsmith banking business was established in London's financial district, the City of London. However, the bank did not acquire its famous name until 1736 when James Barclay joined the firm as a partner. Today, Barclays operates through two main divisions - Barclays UK and Barclays International. These divisions are supported by a service company called Barclays Execution Services. Due to its significant size and importance, Barclays is designated as a systemically important bank by the Financial Stability Board, an international body that monitors the global financial system.

3. NatWest

NatWest

With over 960 branches and 3,400 ATMs across Britain, NatWest serves 7.5 million personal customers and 850,000 small businesses, offering a range of banking products and services. Today, Natwest is heavily invested in digital innovation, continuing the improve the user experience of its mobile app, leveraging open banking APIs and automated services like signature verification. The bank also aims to provide £100bn (US$126.8bn) in climate and sustainable financing by 2025, supporting customers' transition to net zero emissions and renewable energy solutions.

2. Lloyds Bank

Lloyds Bank

Formed through the acquisition of HBOS by Lloyds TSB in 2009, Lloyds Banking Group is a financial powerhouse with a rich legacy spanning over three centuries. Tracing its roots back to the founding of the Bank of Scotland by the Scottish Parliament in 1695, the Group has evolved into a banking behemoth serving 30 million customers and employing 65,000 individuals across its various brands, including Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, and Scottish Widows.

Guided by its "Help Britain Prosper" mission, Lloyds Banking Group is committed to achieving sustainable growth by driving revenue diversification, strengthening cost and capital efficiency, and maximising the potential of emerging technologies and data-driven tools.

1. HSBC

HSBC

With its global presence today, HSBC boasts an extensive network of around 3,900 offices spanning 65 countries and territories across Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America and South America. This vast reach enables the banking giant to serve a staggering customer base of approximately 38 million individuals and businesses worldwide.

Established as a new group holding company by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1991, this multinational investment bank and financial services conglomerate derives its renowned name from those very roots.

Through its diverse range of financial services and products, HSBC has solidified its position as a leading player in the international banking arena, catering to the ever-evolving needs of its clients across multiple continents and economies.

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