With the declared objective of opening current accounts for one in five UK students within the next three years, Abbey National bank is to pour “several million” pounds annually into the coffers of the National Union of Students as part of a major sponsorship deal.

The deal gives Abbey exclusive marketing rights to NUS members, along with an option to supplant Barclaycard in January 2001 as the union’s exclusive credit card partner.

Given the inertia factor which causes the majority of current account-holders to remain with their first bank – often for life – Abbey sees the NUS sponsorship as a means of challenging the dominance of the ‘big four’ clearing banks: Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest. "This is another bridgehead in our war against the old banks," declared Abbey’s retail marketing director, Gary Hockey-Morley.

Recognising that it is outgunned by the number of campus branches operated by its competitors, Abbey’s new online bank Cahoot will spearhead the drive for student business.

News source: Financial Times