Banks get bidding

College is to auction the rights to provide banking services and to advertise such services to students inside Trinity. At present both AIB and Bank of Ireland (BoI) have branches and ATMs on campus. The student banking market has long been considered extremely lucrative for banks, and this might explain why College reportedly expects to get up to €5 million per annum for giving one bank exclusive access.

College is currently “defining its requirements” and preparing the legal documents for the process. Trinity News understands from a source, however, that the winning bank will get the use of the two current locations in the Atrium building, in Front Square, and in the Hamilton building; a deal with marketing during Freshers’ Week, and a location in the new student centre in Luce Hall (though constuction has still not commenced in the two years since it was taken out of use as a sports centre). They would also be allowed associate themselves with the Trinity brand, by launching Trinity College “affinity” credit cards, for example.

Regarding AIB’s and BoI’s locations on campus, they have each been served with a notice to quit.

“The premises will be unoccupied by the time the concession contract comes on stream”, said College procurement officer Ben Hartnett.

College declined to state the terms under which the banks have their locations on campus, claiming the information is “commercially sensitive”. AIB, BoI and Ulster Bank, the three major players in the student banking market, refused to comment on a tender process, though AIB noted its strong presence in the Dublin 2 area.

When asked, College declined to say where the funding raised from this initiative would go. The Students’ Union, however, have said that they will make a case in forthcoming negotiations for some of the funding raised to go towards the cost of construction of the new centre. This would help to lower the levy that will eventually be imposed on students.  

This year, AIB, BoI and Ulster Bank signed up students for bank accounts inside the Arts Block in Freshers’ week. University is a habit-forming period in people lives, and given the hassle in changing bank later on, most are likely to stay with the bank they sign up with for the rest of their lives.

College’s deal with the banks is potentially very important for students. There can be wide differences between the banks’ offerings, and winning bank will be the one paying College the most, not the one that will give you the best deal. For a three-year €4,000 loan, for example, AIB will charge you €230 more than Ulster Bank, according to the Financial Regulator. Interest rates can also vary wildly, ranging from 7 to 10.8 per cent for loans and from 11.6 to 17.9 per cent on credit cards. This marks an interesting turn in College’s relationship with the banks, as both AIB and BoI have given large amounts through sponsorship of various events and initiatives in College. According to one well placed source in College, “a lot of things wouldn’t have happened in College without the banks”.