Number Of Banks In The U.K. – How Many Are There?

The banking sector in the United Kingdom is a complex environment, with numerous players and regulatory bodies. As such, it can be difficult to keep track of how many banks are operating within the country at any given time. This article will discuss the number of banks currently located in the UK and provide insight into the trends that have occurred over recent years. It will also analyze some of the factors driving these changes, enabling readers to gain an understanding of this dynamic industry. In addition, it will consider what implications these developments may have for financial services consumers. By doing so, this article seeks to uncover important information about the current state of affairs regarding banking numbers in the UK.

History Of Banking In The U.K.

The history of banking in the United Kingdom dates back to the early 17th century. During this time, goldsmiths began to offer services such as safekeeping and transfer of money from one person to another in return for a fee. These activities later evolved into full-fledged banks with various branches around the country. By mid-18th century, there were already several hundred banks operating in England alone.

In 1826, the Bank Charter Act was passed which allowed only certain institutions to issue banknotes. This act also limited the number of banknote issuing banks by granting monopoly powers to three large firms – The Bank of England, Barclays and Lloyds – that had already established themselves in London at the time. As a result, most private or provincial banks merged or closed down during this period due to increasing competition from these larger players. Since then, mergers and acquisitions have been commonplace within the U.K.’s banking industry leading up until today where there are currently more than 200 active financial institutions across Britain offering different types of banking services.

Regulatory Requirements For Banks

The banking sector in the United Kingdom is highly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). As of 2019, there were 1,621 banks operating in the UK. The regulations imposed on financial institutions aim to protect consumers from potential risks as well as promote stability within the industry.

Some of these regulatory requirements include:

  1. Adherence to anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing rules.
  2. Compliance with capital adequacy standards.
  3. Protection of customers’ funds.
  4. Provision of clear information about products and services offered to customers.

These requirements are constantly being reviewed and updated to ensure that banks remain compliant with applicable laws and meet customer expectations. Banks must also submit regular reports to demonstrate their compliance with such requirements. Additionally, they are expected to maintain a high degree of transparency when it comes to dealing with clients’ investments or any other financial matters related to them. Overall, regulatory requirements for banks strive towards creating a safer environment for consumers while providing assurance against fraudulent activities in order to promote trustworthiness in the banking system

Types Of Financial Institutions In The U.K.

The financial sector in the United Kingdom (U.K.) is highly regulated and consists of a variety of institutions offering different services to customers. As of 2019, there were 1,742 banks operating in the U.K., including both large international banks as well as smaller regional and local lenders. The majority of these are deposit-taking banks, which accept deposits from individuals and businesses – they must be authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

In addition to banking services, other types of financial institutions provide alternative forms of credit, such as building societies and loan companies. Building societies are mutual organisations owned by their members that offer savings accounts and mortgages while loan companies can offer secured loans with higher interest rates than those typically offered by mainstream banks. Investment firms also operate within the U.K.’s financial system providing advice on investments and fund management for institutional investors, high net worth individuals, pension funds etc. Insurance companies manage insurance policies for car, property and personal liability coverages among others. Payment service providers facilitate electronic payments between buyers and sellers via debit cards or internet access points like PayPal; all payment service providers must be licensed by the FCA. Taken together, this diverse range of financial institutions play an important role in ensuring a healthy economy in the U.K..

Differentiating Between Banks And Building Societies

Financial institutions in the United Kingdom can be divided into two categories: banks and building societies. Banks are typically for-profit, privately owned entities which offer a wide range of financial services including lending money to businesses and individuals, issuing credit cards, accepting deposits, investing funds, and providing advice on investments. Building societies also provide similar services as banks but they are usually mutual organizations that are owned by their members rather than shareholders. They may have different names such as savings & loan associations or cooperative banks.

Differences between banks and building societies include the types of financial products offered, the level of regulation each type is subject to and how profits are distributed. Banks must adhere to stricter regulations than building societies due to their size and scope of operations while building societies tend to focus more on consumer banking and mortgages instead of investment banking activities like foreign exchange trading or derivatives markets trading. Furthermore, any profits generated from a bank’s activities will go back to its shareholders whereas those from a building society will generally be shared out among members who hold accounts with it.

The number of banks operating in the UK stands at around 150 compared to over 200 active building societies today. This reflects the significant differences between them both in terms of structure, purpose, service offerings and regulatory requirements.

Consolidation Among Financial Institutions

In recent years, consolidation among banks and building societies in the UK has become more prevalent. This is mainly due to increased competition from foreign-based financial institutions as well as better technology that allows for a quicker and easier provision of services. Many large banking groups have merged or acquired smaller banks or building societies through takeovers and mergers so as to gain greater market share. As a result, the number of financial institutions operating in the UK has decreased drastically over time with only around seven major banks dominating the landscape.

The trend towards consolidation has led to an increase in efficiency within the UK’s banking sector. Smaller organisations are no longer able to compete on the same level as larger ones, resulting in fewer choices available for consumers when it comes to selecting a bank account provider or mortgage lender. Additionally, there are now fewer regulations governing these large banking conglomerates which can lead to reduced consumer protections and higher fees. In spite of this potential downside, however, most experts agree that consolidation has helped make banking services more accessible and efficient across the country.

Recent Data On Bank Numbers

Recent data indicates the number of banks in the UK is steadily increasing. Since 2015, there has been a 5% growth rate in bank numbers. According to figures from the Bank of England, as of July 2020, there were 1,632 banking institutions operating throughout the country. This figure includes both domestic and foreign-owned banks with operations located in the UK. Additionally, while most are retail banks offering personal services such as mortgages and savings accounts, some offer specialized services like investment banking or asset management.

The increase in banking sector activity comes at a time when non-cash payments have seen an uptick due to digital technologies and methods for making transactions. The proliferation of mobile apps for managing finances has also helped drive this trend. As more people adopt new payment systems, it is likely that these changes will continue to shape the landscape of banking within the country going forward.


The number of banks in the United Kingdom has varied over time, with regulatory requirements and consolidation among financial institutions leading to changes. The most recent data shows that as of December 2020 there were 1,944 banking organisations operating in the U.K., including both banks and building societies. This is significantly lower than the 3,402 reported in 2004 when consolidation was at its highest peak.

It is evident that regulation and consolidation have been key drivers for changing bank numbers in the U.K. Regulations such as capital adequacy requirements set by regulators have resulted in a decrease in smaller players, while larger mergers between banks created bigger entities which had greater market share. It is likely this trend will continue into the future given increased competition from digital technologies and online-only providers who are able to provide services more efficiently using advanced technology platforms.

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