First Direct

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HSBC Bank plc trading as
first direct
Division of HSBC Bank plc
Founded 1989
Headquarters Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
Parent HSBC Bank plc

first direct is a telephone and internet-based retail bank in the United Kingdom, a division of HSBC Bank plc. first direct has headquarters in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, and has 1.25 million customers.[1]

first direct is based at two call centres in Stourton (Leeds) and Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Scotland. Hamilton is the larger of the two call centres. The Leeds call centre handles risk assessment and some processing activities, and the Hamilton call centre shares space with HSBC Direct banking.


first direct was formed on 1 October 1989 by Midland Bank, one of the "Big 4" banks in the UK. In 1992, it became a part of HSBC following the acquisition of Midland Bank.

first direct took its first call on 12.01am on 1 October 1989; more than 1,000 calls were taken within the first 24 hours. The launch of first direct in 1989 was advertised with different adverts run concurrently on different ITV and Channel 4, one offering a negative view showing the aspects of normal banking and the other a positive view of first direct.[2][3]

By May 1991 the bank had 100,000 customers on its books and by March 1993 it had 250,000. It first achieved breakeven in December 1994. In April 1995 the bank gained its 500,000th customer.

In May 1999 it launched text message (SMS) banking, a service through which the bank will alert customers by SMS if the balance on their current account goes below a certain amount, and if set, will send weekly mini-statements also by SMS. The bank began limited trials of Internet Banking in July 1997, launching the service fully in August 2000.

In July 2001 the bank's Offset Mortgage was launched.

In January 2004 the bank launched first directory, a service whereby additional services were added to current accounts such as free text message banking, annual travel insurance and mobile phone insurance for a fixed monthly charge. In April 2004 the bank launched Internet Banking Plus, a service whereby account information was taken by third party Internet Banking from the bank's other accounts with different banks and the information was unified under first direct's Internet Banking Plus service.

The bank has also recently launched a service whereby customers can access accounts via their mobile phone in partnership with MONILINK.

In February 2007, first direct became the first UK bank to introduce a fee for managing a day-to-day current account, fuelling concern for the future of fee-free banking in the UK for personal customers.[4][5] The fee is waived if the customer credits their account with at least £1000 per monthly charging cycle or if they hold an additional first direct product such as a mortgage, savings account or credit card.[6]

In 2013 first direct secured sponsorship of the first direct arena in Leeds.


  1. ^ "Press area, information for journalists". First Direct. Retrieved 2015-01-21. 
  2. ^ HHCL
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Hutchinson, Sascha (2006-11-15). "First Direct to end free banking". This is Money. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  5. ^ "HSBC Becomes First UK Bank To End ‘Free’ Banking". The Money Stop. 2006-11-16. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  6. ^

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