Harrods Bank goes fintech

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The fintech revolution continues to spread even into the most staid corners of banking.

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The 123-year old Harrods Bank, based on the second floor of the famously upmarket Knightsbridge department store, where it quietly caters to well-heeled customers typically with a spare £250,000 or so to deposit and who rarely let their current account balances dip below £5,000, has signed a tie-up with World First, a fintech money changer that was founded in a basement in Stockwell. 

Harrods Bank customers are used to dealing with their own relationship manager and when they go online, they may be perusing investment decisions such as whether or not to buy one of the bank’s gold bars that range up to a 400oz large version which retails for a punchy £426,000.

World First will provide a simple, fast and cost effective way for these Harrods Bank customers to transfer money overseas. Simon Martin, director of distribution, says: “Harrods Bank customers bank with us from across the globe, and we are delighted to be now able to offer them this new international money transfer service. 

“There are no fees for international transfers, and the service offers competitive rates, alongside the peace of mind that Harrods Bank provides.”

Peace of mind

That peace of mind probably also comes from the fact that Harrods Bank is regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and has been owned since 2010 by Qatar Holding. When the shop itself was owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed and his brother, the Bank of England reportedly intervened to have control of Harrods Bank transferred to independent trustees. 

Recently the bank has been tip-toeing down market, offering savings accounts to customers who do not run personal current accounts and may have as little as £20,000 to deposit – roughly the price of one of the Gucci shoulder bags they could pick up at the store. The deal with World First, with a minimum transfer limit of just £1,000 – enough to buy one out of a pair of the shop’s crocodile skin and leather gloves – seems to indicate a further step in this direction.

Seth Harvey, global head of partnerships at World First, calls it “a great example of how heritage brands like Harrods are collaborating with fintech specialists like World First to combine great technology with exceptional client service”. No mention yet of using the money transfer service to earn loyalty points on the store card.