The biggest difficulty I've had in the UK so far has been getting a bank account. I won't bore you with the details, but I'll summarise by saying that when your core business is to hold money for people so that you can leverage it to lend to other people, and your policies are so stupid that you can't hold money for people, it's no wonder you suffer in a credit crisis. This video captures my experience pretty well:

Feeling pretty helpless about the whole thing, I did some thinking about what my own bank would look like if I could open one. StovellBank would provide:

  • Ability to open an account (in a person or company name)
  • Ability to transfer funds electronically into and out of the account
  • A debit card

A small fee would be charged for holding the account. Balances wouldn't be allowed to drop below 0, so no credit facility is needed. Cheques, handing out cash and branches are all a thing of the past and wouldn't be necessary in StovellBank.

StovellBank wouldn't provide any form of credit or lending, and wouldn't leverage the deposited funds in any way, so there would be no fractional reserve lending nor the need to keep tight control over reserves. All money would sit in an interest bearing account of the Bank of England.

Founding a bank in the UK

The biggest hurdle here seems to be getting a sort code to participate in electronic transactions. Sort codes are allocated by the UK Payments Administration, and bank transfers are settled by the CHAPS group.

Where it all falls down is that to participate in CHAPS, you don't just sign up - you have to become a member. The membership criteria looks pretty daunting. Banks in the UK are also governed by the UK FSA. All in all, I get the feeling that creating my own bank would involve a lot of lawyer fees.

New Zealand

While opening a bank in the UK is difficult, opening your own bank in New Zealand might not be so hard, as long as you don't offer banking services to New Zealand residents.

This is probably a venture that go on the back burner.

A picture of me

Welcome, my name is Paul Stovell. I live in Brisbane and work on Octopus Deploy, an automated deployment tool.

Prior to founding Octopus Deploy, I worked for an investment bank in London building WPF applications, and before that I worked for Readify, an Australian .NET consulting firm. I also worked on a number of open source projects and was an active user group presenter. I was a Microsoft MVP for WPF from 2006 to 2013.

15 Aug 2011

Hi Paul,

I've had similar feelings about banks in Australia and read through equivalent legislation around banks on mulitple occasions. I'd call my bank "Developer Bank" and you would only be allowed to transact via an API. The bank would provide bindings for various languages, but you could go native with either XML or JSON.

It would also provide an OAuth front end for other applications that wanted to integrate. In fact - I think that would be a good starting point for all banks :)

15 Aug 2011

Hi Paul

Yeh, had similar issues when I arrived here - best bet was to get a HSBC passport account (all you need is a passport). Once you've got money going in, and some statements you can upgrade the account to a "real" HSBC account (or some other bank) and move on to find new and exciting reasons to hate your bank.

18 Aug 2011


I think I'd just dispense with the facade that all banks have today and go reality bank.

Glavbank would allow you to create an account, maybe even borrow money. From that point on, we deduct money from that account. Always. No questions asked. Regularly. Its not a stupid fee. It is just business. We want some of your money and we will take it. If u dont agree, bank elsewhere. It will be a known agreed amount. Not hidden, not calculated by the amount of hairs on a bank managers palm or any other esoteric account feature/factor.

Accounts going below zero by a small margin get assigned to a "social degradation" department that tweets, Facebooks, Google+ 's how much of a tightarse you are and don't pay your bills.

Accounts with larger defaulting amounts get assigned a personal thug.

Not too dissimilar from today, except I could save countless thousands by not providing bullshit advertising that say I care.

18 Aug 2011

Yep - good luck with that - it's often easier to set accounts up before you get to London. NatWest and HSBC are the most helpful for new arrivals I have found but you still have to go through the red tape. I'm actually moving back to Aus (Gold Coast) in a few weeks after 10 years here. I can tell you getting Australian stuff sorted out when you've been away for a while is not easy either. Medicare is a pain...