The starting gun has been fired for bidders of a £775 million fund from Royal Bank of Scotland, with the likes of Handelsbanken and Co-operative Bank and emerging as prospective bidders.
The Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) body – which is tasked with distributing the cash – held its first market event today to outline criteria just days before it formally posts application forms online on Monday.
BCR directors including Lord Godfrey Cromwell took questions from a full house of around 100 banks, lenders and fintechs in central London.
While a number of firms have already confirmed plans to submit bids for multi-million-pound awards, new contenders emerged at the market event.
Representatives were present from the likes of Nationwide, Co-operative Bank, Habib Bank Zurich, AIB, OakNorth, Investec, ClearBank and Handelsbanken.
The Co-operative Bank’s chief executive Andrew Bester attended the event alongside business banking executives.
The lender confirmed that it was looking closely at the scheme and considering the options available.
A spokesman for Handelsbanken said they were investigating whether it would be possible to participate in the incentivised switching scheme, which will encourage SME customers to ditch their RBS account for rival banks.
They add to the list of challenger banks including Metro, Starling, TSB and Clydesdale-owner CYBG, all of which are widely known to have been working on their respective bids for months.
It illustrates the wide-ranging applicants in line to compete for the £775m fund, which is provided by RBS as part of conditions attached to its £45 billion government bailout at the height of the financial crisis.