|Division of Santander UK plc|
|Industry||Finance and Insurance|
|Headquarters||Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom|
|Juan Gomez-Reino, Managing Director|
cahoot is the internet division of Santander UK plc, the British subsidiary of the Santander Group. Cahoot was launched in June 2000, as the internet-based banking brand of Abbey National plc, and by December 2008, it had 750,000 customers. Cahoot is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Cahoot offered interest free overdrafts and credit cards at launch to its first 25,000 customers, but was beset by technical issues that affected the website.
There have been several instances of security or operational failures with the website. The initial launch of the bank in 2000 resulted in the website crashing. One case in November 2004 was a security scare in which it was revealed that customers' accounts could be accessed without going through security procedures, after an update to the online banking system.
From 15 to 16 October 2008, the secure section of the Cahoot website became unavailable, due, according to Cahoot, to a power outage in Spain. Although the main page of the website operated normally, it proved impossible for customers to log in to access their savings, leaving them unable to access their accounts and carry out transactions. Call centre staff were also unable to carry out any transactions for customers. Customers were able to access their accounts again normally on 17 October 2008.
Prior to the takeover of parent bank Abbey by Santander, Cahoot recovered from its launch and security issues to achieve over 600,000 accounts and a significant share of the unsecured lending market in the United Kingdom. It was consistently rated in Consumers' Association and Guardian surveys in the top three best banks in the United Kingdom, for service and pricing.
Initially led by Tim Murley, the bank was taken over by Tim Sawyer in November 2002, who was later succeeded by John Goddard in September 2005.
Abbey was renamed under its parent's brand in January 2010, although Cahoot and other specialist brands of the bank were retained by Santander. However, bad debt has affected profitability and marketing spend has largely ceased, with most marketing staff being redeployed elsewhere.
Cahoot operates as a division of Santander UK, and shares Santander's banking licence and headquarters. Its business model involves a very small operational staff, with IT services initially in 2003 outsourced to IBM using their "Software on Demand" model.
As of May 2013, Cahoot only offer savings accounts for new customers, but also provided credit cards and personal loans to new business until 2006. Cahoot also provided a "Webcard" facility which generated a one use card number for each online transaction (Controlled Payment Number), as a measure to combat card fraud. The feature was withdrawn in October 2009.
The flexible loan service was discontinued completely in the second quarter of 2009 to 2010, and it was later learned that the product's high interest rate (for some 22%) had been 'frozen' and transferred to Santander at some point. The flexible loan was designed as a credit facility, a bit like a credit card, to borrow and repay as necessary, offering attractive interest rates at first.
New credit card business had ceased in 2006, although customers could continue using their credit card limits and available balances as normal. Cahoot also provided current accounts, though it withdrew these from new business in February 2010. Before January 2010, Cahoot informed customers that their loan limits had been "reviewed" and given thirty days notice that the withdraw service was disappearing.
Cahoot have now discontinued all products being available to new customers. This information suggests that Cahoot may be closing down for good, with a transfer of all products being made to Santander later this or next year, or complete closure of cahoot products and transferred to Santander Current accounts / standard savings accounts etc. On 7 June 2015, Cahoot ceased to pay interest on current account balances.
Their call centre operates on skeleton staffing, compared to most inbound call centres, and does not have specialised call centre staff advising on varied products; instead, staff are trained on a broad range of products.
- "Internet bank customers panic as Cahoot is shut down for 24 hours by power blackout in Spain". Daily Mail. 16 October 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
- "Abbey National launches Cahoot". BBC News. 12 June 2000. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
- "Cahoot hit by web security scare". BBC News. 5 November 2004. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
- "Online banking: Breakfast investigates". BBC News. 5 November 2004. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- Cahoot customers now able to access accounts Lauren Thompson. Times Online. 17 October 2008
- Hilary Osborne (27 May 2009). "Santander to rebrand UK banks". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2009.
- IBM Case Study IBM
- "All internet and phone payments to be faster from 2012". Payments Council. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
- "Your rights when making and receiving payments". Financial Services Authority. Retrieved 7 January 2012.