Banks fall over each other in euro race

Pundits who say the introduction of the euro will intensify competition had an early example of the phenomenon this week, with two of the leading clearing banks claiming to be first to launch business accounts in the European single currency. With fewer than 300 days to go until the planned introduction of the euro, Midland and NatWest chose Monday to claim that each was first.

NatWest started at the top of the market, signing up the UK arm of German engineering group Siemens as the first customer for its euro corporate account. To mark the event Bernd Euler, Siemens UK finance director (above left), carried a symbolic euro coin into the bank’s headquarters helped by Tony Shaw, managing director of NatWest corporate banking services. NatWest said 2,000 companies had registered an interest in banking in euros.

At the same time Midland claimed it was first to open euro business accounts, announcing a special service for small businesses. Companies can open accounts now in ecus and they will be converted automatically into euros when the new currency is launched on 1 January 1999.

Related reading