JPMorgan launches challenger bank Chase in the UK

This expansion aims to put legacy UK banks on the backfoot as they contend with the rise of the likes of Monzo

The US banking firm JPMorgan has launched a digital bank in the UK in an attempt to unsettle legacy British financial giants as they contend with the recent successes of a string of challenger banks.

The launch of Chase in the UK marks JPMorgan’s first retail expansion beyond the US and offers UK customers a digital-first current account in the mould of Monzo, Revolut or Starling - backed by the US banking titan. 

By signing up and downloading the Chase app, customers will be granted access to a current account within minutes alongside features to help users budget manage money, spend and save. There’ll also be a UK-based customer support team available 24/7.

The launch of Chase puts pressure on legacy UK banking giants such as RBS and Barclays struggling to stem the rapid growth in popularity of the aforementioned challenger banks. 

The user base of Monzo, for example, has surged from 150,000 in 2017 to four million in 2020, according to Business of Apps. Starling Bank, too, was recently crowned a UK fintech unicorn, which means its value surpassed the $1 billion mark. 

Chase hopes to further turn the screw by launching its app with a number of additional incentives, including “small change round-ups” which allow customers to earn 5% interest for 12 months when rounding up purchases to the nearest £1.

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Fee-free debit card usage abroad as well as customisable current accounts, for different spending pots, may also appeal to customers. This is in addition to 1% cashback.

The debit card itself won’t feature a number, interestingly, with card details stored behind a secure login on the Chase app. This means customers who lose the physical card needn’t worry about others making payments using the stolen card. 

Traditional banks have tried in recent years to retain their stranglehold on UK customers by launching their own digital alternatives to the challenger banks like Starling. 

NatWest-owned RBS launched its own digital-first current account, branded Bó, in February 2020, for example. The service shut down after just six months, however, and absorbed into NatWest’s own challenger bank Mettle, which is aimed at businesses.

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