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Challenger bank Tandem buys Harrods' banking arm

08 August 2017|by Beauhurst

Tandem, one of the UK's challenger banks, is set to buy the banking arm of Harrods in a first-of-its-kind move by the startup.

Tandem last raised investment via crowdfunding platform Seedrs in 2016; the £2.23m valued the bank at £61m pre-money. It has not been without its troubles, however: in December of last year, it announced that it had secured £35m from retail giant House of Fraser – only for the deal to fall through over uncertainty about whether the Chinese state would allow it.

'Tandem' has also gone through several iterations: originally registered as RNM Money, and trading as RNM Financial, the company that later became Tandem Bank – and now simply Tandem – also planned to become Tandem Money until the House of Fraser's investment failure put a rebrand on hold, alongside firing a third of its staff (whose numbers fell from 120 to 80). 

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Yet despite Tandem's tribulations, its services are not easily dismissed: it offers the spending tracking that has now become standard, alongside a current account (pipping rival Monzo to the post, although Tandem's entire offering is so far unreleased). It matches Atom in providing a savings account, too – plus a credit card. That's all alongside intelligent suggestions for alternative providers when ongoing bills or tarrifs increase, a feature which appears unique to Tandem – for now, at least.

All this means that, should Tandem launch its portfolio of services imminently (which is by no means guaranteed), it will be more complete than that of any competitor. Its acquisition of Harrods Bank will give the young company a cash injection of £80m, which ought to speed up the process of rolling out its accounts. And its valuation may be lower than that of higher-profile rivals like Atom (reportedly worth £300m, although this valuation is more recent than any of Tandem's), but its growth has been steady:

With a large segment of the milennial market to play for, it remains to be seen which challenger bank will emerge first as the market leader. 

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