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Bankinter to expand Irish services through Avant Money

The Irish banking market is set to receive a competition boost with news from Spanish lender Bankinter that it intends to use its subsidiary Avant Money as an Irish banking branch.

The company said the move, which would provide Avant with a full banking licence, would enable it to offer a wider range of financial products and services here into the future.

Initially the new business will begin with offering deposit products, on top of the mortgages, personal loans and credit cards it currently provides, with an expectation that other services will follow.

“Today’s decision paves the way for the strategic expansion of our business,” said Ninall Corbett, CEO of Avant Money.

“This is a clear commitment to Ireland from Bankinter and we look forward to bringing even more choice, value and competition to the market. It will allow us to better meet the needs of customers by further leveraging Bankinter’s innovative products and customer experience.”

“We see potential for future job creation through the expansion of our operations and offerings, contributing to economic development and employment opportunities here in Ireland.”

Niall Corbett, CEO of Avant Money

Bankinter will buy the entire shareholding of Avant Money, previously owned by its subsidiary, Bankinter Consumer Finance, making it the sole shareholder in the Irish business, it said.

It will also establish a branch here and move all the assets, liabilities, rights, obligations and legal relationships of Avant Money to it.

“It will continue the activities currently carried out by Avant Money in Ireland, with plans then to expand, initially, into the deposit market, following the necessary legal steps and regulatory approval,” the Spanish bank said.

Sources confirmed that Bankinter’s offering will be digital only and that it will not open any branches here.

Initially, at least, it will continue to operate under the Avant Money brand.

The development was welcomed by the Minister for Finance who said it is significant for the Irish banking market and welcome news for households, businesses and consumers.

“In 2022, my Department carried out a review of the retail banking sector in Ireland. It recognised the need to protect competition in the retail banking market to best serve consumers’ interests,” Michael McGrath said.

“The intention of another European bank, Bankinter, to establish a branch in Ireland to provide a range of banking products is a very welcome development in that regard,” he added.

Avant arrived in Ireland in 2012 when it bought the credit card business of MBNA here.

In 2019, Bankinter bought the Avant Card business and renamed it Avant Money in 2020, the same year it began offering mortgages here.

The lender has grown rapidly in the mortgage market since then and today has a portfolio worth €2.4 billion, up 53% on a year ago.

Staff were informed of the developments this morning and the bank said there would be no changes to their current terms and conditions of employment.

It also said that existing customers will not be impacted by the changes.

Bankinter is the fifth largest bank in Spain and among the top 50 largest banks in Europe.

It has operations in Spain, Portugal, Ireland Luxembourg.

In Ireland its loan book is currently worth €3.3 billion, with €2.4 billion of that in mortgages and €900m in personal loans.

In the first three months of the year, the Irish business made a pre-tax profit of €9m and it currently has 200,000 customers here.

Bankinter made a net profit of €845m in 2023, up 51% on the previous year.

Avant Money to cut mortgage interest rates

Avant Money has today announced plans to cut its mortgage interest rates and also said it will introduce a new incentive to support people who wish to move their mortgage to it.

It said its four year fixed rate mortgage will decrease to 3.6% for loan-to-values up to 80% and by 3.8% for loan-to-values of more than 80%.

All other fixed rates will decrease to between 3.7% and 3.95% depending on the fixed rate term and loan-to-value.

The new rates are due to take effect from Friday May 3.

The mortgage provider also said it will launch a new mortgage switching incentive which offers 1% of the mortgage amount in cash – for example €4,000 on a €400,000 mortgage.

Avant said there is no immediate change for its existing mortgage customers.

Any customers who have applied but not yet drawn down their mortgage will automatically get the benefit of the lower rates if they draw down from May 3, it added.

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