first direct

HSBC explores First Direct overhaul to compete with challengers

HSBC is looking to overhaul First Direct in order to attract younger consumers and keep up with digital disruptors.

Challenger banks such as Monzo have been gaining momentum as consumers enjoy in-app features such as automatic savings and real-time updates.

Joe Gordon, First Direct’s chief executive, says the bank will make a series of changes over the next year to improve its services to become “more accessible to a wider population”.

Gordon explains: “We have a proud heritage of being the original challenger bank back in 1989 . . . now we’re making a real digital pivot to tackle the environment as it is now.”

Some of the new products it is working on include an in-app marketplace and a ‘financial autopilot’ that would use artificial intelligence to make personalised recommendations and automate activities such as topping up savings accounts. Successful features may eventually be introduced to customers of HSBC as well.

First Direct will also allow customers with limited credit histories to open accounts for the first time and provide services to help them improve their records.

READ MORE: HSBC plans First Direct relaunch to compete with digital rivals

Lego explores rental service to improve environmental credentials

Lego is exploring whether it could offer a rental service to become more environmentally friendly.

Tim Brooks, Lego’s vice-president responsible for sustainability, says the world’s biggest toymaker was “totally open” to the idea of a product rental scheme.

However, Brooks notes there are clear barriers including the complexity of Lego kits, some of which contain thousands of pieces. He explains: “We have to start at the point that says what is in it for the consumer. That is what we are just unpicking at the moment. It is possible, [but] there are some technical barriers.”

Brooks stressed that a rental scheme was just one of several ideas being looked at to reduce Lego’s consumption and become more environmentally friendly.

Lego is facing pressure over sustainability due to the large quantity of plastic in its products. It has promised to phase out fossil fuel-based plastics by 2030 but it has yet to find a high-quality substitute.

£ READ MORE: Lego looks at putting together potential rental service

Retail footfall down 10% in seven years

The number of shoppers on the high street has dropped by 10% over the last seven years, according to new data.

Retail footfall dropped 1.7% last month compared with the same month last year, and 1.6% on a three-month basis, according to a new report from Springboard and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

High street and shopping centre stores have been struggling to turn a profit in recent years amid growing challenges of rising costs, intense competition and economic uncertainty.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, says: “Given the monumental changes that have occurred in our retail trading landscape over the past decade, it is unsurprising that the long-term footfall trend is a downward one.

“However, with 80% of spend remaining in-store there is still much for bricks and mortar stores to play for in the fourth quarter of 2019, which of course includes the all-important festive trading period.”

Unseen launches coded campaign to save its modern slavery helpline

Anti-slavery charity Unseen is launching a coded campaign to help save its Modern Slavery Helpline.

The charity’s outdoor and social media campaign aims to raise awareness about the prevelance of modern slavery and raise £800,000 to save its 24-hour helpline from closure.

#UnseenStories, created by Aesop, uses a story-within-a-story technique based on real survivor stories to expose the lies told by those who prey on potential victims.

The ads are being posted on lenticular billboards and posters across Britain, as well as on social media, using the hashtag #UnseenStories. Each story changes from abstract poetry to unsettling reality. For example, the phrase: “I lost myself to the nightlife and bright lights in London”, transforms into: “I lost my life in London.”

Chief executive of Unseen, Andrew Wallis, says: “We hope the #UnseenStories campaign will remind people that there are thousands of victims of modern slavery, often hidden in plain sight, that need their help and will support us by donating and showing solidarity by changing their social media to green.”

It also calls on the public to change their profile picture on social media to green as a statement of solidarity for the unseen victims of modern slavery in the UK.

Plus, in Bristol, where Unseen was founded, bright green projections will light up homes across the city, highlighting the often ‘hidden-in-plain-sight’ nature of modern slavery.

More than 7,100 suspected victims of modern slavery were identified across the UK in 2018 alone, with Romanian nationals comprising the largest victim group.

Challenger brand Starling Bank launches first TV ad

Starling Bank is launching its first TV advertising campaign to encourage people to feel more confident about their finances.

Feel Good About Money, created by Ekstasy, focuses on the digital bank’s commitment to giving people the tools they need to feel in control of their finances.

The 30-second advert opens on a small business owner starting her day, setting up her food truck next to a starling bird. The ad follows the bird as it takes flight and is joined by others as they fly through rolling countryside and cities. It closes in on the entrepreneur using Starling Bank.

Rachael Pollard, chief growth officer at Starling Bank, says: “Our aim is to make Starling a household name, pursuing our mission to free the UK from cumbersome and outdated banking. Our namesake, the starling bird, features prominently, symbolising the fast, beautiful and effortless qualities of our app, as well as the synergy with our brand colours of teal, navy and purple.”

The campaign will run across outdoor, billboards, radio and online.