A new breed of challenger bank

Back in 1989, Midland Bank launched an innovative new bank called First Direct. It had no physical branches – customers could only contact it by phone – but the lines were open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And in a challenge to the established banks, which often fell short on customer service, First Direct positioned itself as “better”, hoping that customers would “enjoy the experience of banking with us”.

First Direct was a big success. By 1995 it was making a profit. Today it has 1.3 million customers. It consistently tops [...]

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