Smile Bank :: Smile4dairy

Smile Bank

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The Co-operative Bank has raised the prospect of quietly closing off its internet bank Smile to new customers, as it cuts costs and attempts to rebuild the reputation of its core business.

Executives told investors and analysts earlier this month that it plans to focus on bringing new customers under the Co-op Bank umbrella, suggesting that Smile, which was hailed as the first full-service internet bank when it launched in 1999, is of diminishing importance.

“The Smile brand still exists, but the intention going forward is we will acquire [customers] into one brand which will be the Co-operative Bank, ” Liam Coleman, the retail and commercial banking director said at an investor event on May 20.

He contrasted Smile with Platform, the Co-op Bank’s mortgage brand for selling through brokers, which he maintained would remain in place.

A spokesman downplayed Mr Coleman’s comments, saying the Co-op Bank had "no short or medium term" plans to stop people opening accounts with Smile. However, the Co-op Bank has launched a heavy marketing push to boost its public perception, as well as new incentives to boost customer numbers, suggesting it is focusing on its core business.

It has been plagued by a series of scandals, including the arrest of its former chairman Paul Flowers over drug allegations.

Smile was launched to great fanfare, offering current accounts, savings and credit cards, in 1999, at the peak of the dotcom bubble.

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