Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) today announced a new savings rate of 1.5 per cent just weeks after Goldman Sachs entered the British market.
The instant access savings account will pay the annual rate, which will put it near the top of the best-buy tables for some customers, up to the first £10,000, whereas Goldman's offering currently offers 1.5 per cent up to £250,000.
The move will likely be seen as an early sign that big British banks are feeling the pressure from the US banking giant's entry into the retail banking market.
However, RBS's offering is clearly aimed at the lower end of the market, with 1.5 per cent offered only in its "savings builder" accounts, with the proviso that customers deposit £50 per month. Beyond £10,000 the account will only offer 0.2 per cent.
For wealthier savers the bank will also offer a rate of 0.85 per cent on balances between £50,000 and £100,000.
The move comes as RBS tries to mend a reputation tarnished by a decade of scandals, including the government's bailout during the financial crisis and its mistreatment of small business borrowers.
The bank's chairman, Sir Howard Davies, this week suggested it could ditch the RBS brand completely, in an interview with the Times.
In England and Wales RBS has placed less emphasis on the RBS consumer-facing brand, with Natwest coming to the fore.
All the main British high street banks were forced in the summer to prominently display survey results showing customer ratings compared to other banks, in a regulator-mandated effort to enliven the current account switching market. RBS's brand came in 15th overall, while Natwest came in ninth.