Coutts partners with Visa to offer UK’s first-ever multi-currency card

Coutts, the UK private bank best known to many as “the Queen’s bankers”, said it has launched a new, multi-currency debit card, as it looks to better cater for its many cross-border-living clients.

It is launching the card – which Coutts says it believes is the first such-multi-currency card of its type, at least in the UK market – in partnership with Visa, the US-based credit card and debit card giant. Less than two weeks after going live, the multi-currency card programme already has seen more than 1,000 Coutts clients adopt it thus far, Coutts said.

The card will enable those of its clients who maintain accounts with the bank in more than one currency to conduct all their transactions from a single card, thus eliminating foreign-exchange charges, and the need to carry a handful of cards, Coutts says. Existing clients won’t need to be issued a new card, but will be able to have the new feature added to their existing debit card, either online or in a Coutts branch.

A Coutts spokesperson said: “This multi-currency offering, covering more than 20 major currencies and more than 38 countries, is now free from international transaction fees and is therefore a UK first, demonstrating our  commitment to delivering innovative solutions to our clients’ increasingly complex and changing needs.”

Changes

The introduction of the new multi-currency card is the latest in a series of changes at the bank, which famously dates back to 1692, and which is now a part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. In August, it announced it was to raise its fees for a basic current account to £900 from £600, and was to end free travel insurance for its customers. (Instead, it will provide the cover for £150 a person.)

Customers may continue to bank with Coutts for free, but they must have £250,000 or more in savings, investments or a mortgage with the bank in order to do so.

As reported,  in October it was revealed that the current senior management team of Coutts & Co Trustees (Jersey), including chief executive Martin Hall, had entered into a binding sale and purchase agreement to complete a management buyout of the business from Coutts & Co.

Last year Coutts announced the sale of its Swiss operation, in line, it said, with its intention of focusing “on the key markets of importance to [its] clients”.

Also last year, RBS revealed it had  reached an agreement to sell its internationally-managed private banking and wealth management business to Switzerland’s Union Bancaire Privée, saying it would “continue to service UK private banking and wealth management client needs, together with those of international clients with a strong connection to the UK, from the British Isles, through its Coutts and Adam & Company brands”.

Today, referring to these and other changes that have occurred recently, the bank spokesperson said: “These changes bring greater clarity and consistency to our core banking proposition, are central to our drive to become a simpler and more sustainable bank, and reward our clients for the depth of their relationship with us.”

Of the change in the banking tariff, the spokesperson added that it came after “a six-year period of no change” and brought Coutts more into line with the rest of the market.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helen Burggraf
Helen Burggraf is the editor of International Investment. A US-trained journalist, she has worked in Rome, New York City and London, covering everything from the fashion and retailing industries to the global drinking water and water-treatment sector, private equity, and most recently, the international cross-border financial services/advice industry.

Read more from Helen Burggraf

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