Lloyds is ‘the largest digital bank in the UK,’ CEO says, and it wants to work with fintech startups

Lloyds CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio.

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Lloyds CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio.
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REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

  • Lloyds CEO António Horta Osório says it’s the biggest digital bank in the UK with 30 million digital customers.
  • “Partnerships between banks and fintech companies will become even more important as they work in a symbiotic relationship,” he told the International Fintech conference in London.

LONDON – The CEO of Lloyds Bank told a conference in London on Thursday that his company is the biggest digital bank in the UK, eclipsing the wave of digital startups that have sprung up in the last few years.

António Horta Osório told the UK Treasury’s International Finance conference that Lloyds is “the largest digital bank in the UK, with a 22% share of new business.”

The bank has 9 million active smartphone customers, Horta Osório said, despite having no app customers as recently as 2011. Across all platforms, Lloyds has 30 million digital customers, the CEO said.

Digital-only challenger banks such as Monzo, Starling, and Atom have sprung up in the UK over the last few years, attracting customers in the hundreds of thousands. Horta Osório did not mention any of these new entrants but his remarks seemed to be clearly informed by the context.

Horta Osório added that Lloyds has committed to spending the equivalent of £1 billion annually on its digital strategy over the next three years, which is only £300 million shy of the total invested across all UK fintech last year.

The Lloyds CEO extended an olive branch to challenger banks and other fintech startups, urging cooperation rather than competition.

“I believe partnerships between banks and fintech companies will become even more important as they work in a symbiotic relationship,” Horta Osório said.

New Open Banking rules that came into force in the UK at the start of the year “the potential to herald one of the most significant changes to modern banking in the years ahead,” Horta Osório said.

Open Banking rules require banks to share customer data with third parties if customers agree. Some analysts believe these changes could hit bank’s profits as they are disintermediated but Horta Osório said he was optimistic that big banks would still play an important role in giving consumers “security and trust” in this new landscape.

“I believe there is still huge untapped potential,” he said. “It is here, in unleashing this potential, that fintechs can have a big role.”