Pound Sterling (GBP)
The pound (symbol: £; ISO code: GBP), divided into 100 pence, is the official currency of the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies. The slang term “quid” is very common in the UK. The official full name pound sterling (plural: pounds sterling) is used mainly in formal contexts and also when it is necessary to distinguish the currency used within the United Kingdom from others that have the same name. The currency name — but not the names of its units — is sometimes abbreviated to just “sterling,” particularly in the wholesale financial markets; so “payment accepted in sterling,” but never “that costs five sterling”. The abbreviations “ster.” or “stg.” are sometimes used. The term British pound, used particularly by the U.S. media, is not an official name of the currency.
Since decimalization in 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 pence (singular “penny”). The symbol for the penny is “p”; hence an amount such as 50p (£0.50) is usually pronounced “fifty pee” rather than “fifty pence”. (This also helped to distinguish between new and old pence amounts during the changeover to the decimal system).
Laws of legal tender are uniquely complex in the UK. In England and Wales, banknotes issued by the Bank of England are legal tender, meaning that they should be accepted in payment of a debt. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, no banknotes are legal tender, and each bank which issues banknotes does so in the form of its own promissory notes. In the Channel Islands and Isle of Man the local variations on the banknotes are legal tender in their respective jurisdiction. Scottish, Northern Irish, Channel Islands and Manx notes are sometimes rejected by shops when used in England.
Notes are issued by the Big Four banks in Northern Ireland — the Bank of Ireland, the First Trust Bank, the Northern Bank and the Ulster Bank. Notes printed by the Bank of Ireland, although in pounds sterling, are mistaken in England for the former Irish pound and often rejected. The only plastic banknote in the United Kingdom is printed by the Northern Bank. This is the bank’s Year 2000 commemorative £5 banknote, which was printed in Australia.
Frequently used: 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, £2
Rarely used: £5
Frequently used: £5, £10, £20
Rarely used: £1 (Channel Islands, Scot. only), £50, £100 (Scot., N. Ire. only)
Northern Bank is the largest retail bank in Northern Ireland, with a network of 95 branches and 13 finance centers. The Bank’s staff of more than 2,300 employees serve some 415,000 personal and business customers.
Northern Bank began in 1809 as a tiny Belfast banking company called the Northern Banking Partnership. From the very beginning, Northern catered to the business market and expanded services in line with its needs. From the birth of the merchant class and linen manufacturing industry to the great shipbuilding era and the recent technology boom, Northern has been closely involved in the work and lives of those residing on this island. Throughout its history, the bank’s fortunes have been closely linked with the border counties and Dublin. In 1840, the Bank established its first branch in what is now the Republic of Ireland in Clones, Monaghan, and significantly expanded the branch network during the 1970s. In the late 1980s, these outlets were renamed National Irish Bank.
Today, Northern remains the bank of choice for businesses in Northern Ireland. A network of affiliated banks in northern Europe provides business customers with local banking and financial assistance in countries where they wish to conduct business.
The bank offers a full range of financial products and services designed for the needs of both business and personal banking customers. Direct banking channels, such as electronic banking, are undergoing significant enhancements to cater for the more sophisticated needs of today’s customers. In addition to traditional channels, the bank also offers customers the following services:
*Online banking facilities available around the clock for all routine transactions.
*24-hour telephone banking for customers who wish to access their accounts from a telephone at any time.
*Customer Contact Center for customers who wish to apply for personal loans and obtain advice over the phone.
*Automated teller machines nation-wide, with many located outside the branch network.
*Mobile personal bankers who can meet customers at their convenience.
*Mobile business bankers who can meet business customers at their premises to gain a better understanding of their businesses.
Northern Bank became part of the Danske Bank Group in 2005. Danske Bank is the largest bank in Denmark and a leading player in the Scandinavian financial markets. The Danske Bank Group offers a wide range of financial services, including insurance, mortgage finance, asset management, brokerage, real estate and leasing services. The Group has some 19,000 employees who serve a total of 3.5 million retail customers and a significant share of the corporate and institutional customers in its core markets of northern Europe. Danske Bank has had operations in the United Kingdom since 1982.
Donegall Square West
Belfast BT1 6JS
44 28 9024 5277
First Trust Bank
First Trust Bank, part of the AIB Group, is a commercial bank created in 1991 when TSB Northern Ireland merged with the AIB Group’s other interests. The bank can trace its existence back to 1816 with the founding of the Belfast Savings Bank. The AIB Bank GB & NI division, with total assets of €15.1 billion, operates in two distinct markets, Northern Ireland and Great Britain (where it operates as Allied Irish Bank (GB)), with different economies and operating environments. AIB Group (UK) p.l.c., registered in the UK and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, operates as the legal entity for the division.
In the Northern Ireland market, the division operates under the trading name First Trust Bank from 57 full service branches throughout the province. The First Trust Bank Head Office is located in Belfast, together with the Branch Services Center. A full service is offered to business and personal customers, across the range of customer segments, including personal customers, small and medium sized enterprises, and the corporate sector. Specialist services, including mortgages, credit cards, invoice discounting and asset finance are based in Belfast and delivered throughout the division. First Trust Independent Financial Services provides sales and advice on regulated products and services, including protection, investment and pension requirements to the whole of the division.
First Trust Bank
4 Queens Square
Belfast BT1 3DJ
44 28 9032 5599
Ulster Bank (Irish: Banc Uladh) is a large commercial bank in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Its main base is in Belfast and it maintains a large sector of the financial services in both parts of Ireland as well as having operations on the Isle of Man. The Bank is currently owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the second largest financial institution in Europe and the sixth largest in the world by market capitalization.
Ulster Bank offers the Maestro (formerly Switch) and Laser debit cards to Northern and Republic of Ireland customers respectively, in addition to other financial services. The Ulster Bank Group, is a leading provider of financial services throughout Ireland, with 267 branches and over 790 ATMs. It also includes the First Active Institution which has branches in the Republic of Ireland and Guernsey, and offers financial services in Great Britain.
11-16 Donegall Square East
Belfast, Co Antrim BT1 5UB
44 28 9027 6000
44 28 902 76525 (fax)
Bank of Ireland
Headquartered in Dublin, the Bank of Ireland has operations throughout the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, particularly Northern Ireland, where it prints its own banknotes in Pounds Sterling. In Great Britain, the bank expanded largely through the takeover of the Bristol and West Building Society in 1996. It also provides financial services for the Post Office throughout the UK.
The Group provides a broad range of financial services in Ireland to the personal, commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors. These include checking and deposit services, overdrafts, term loans, mortgages, international asset financing, leasing, installment credit, debt financing, foreign exchange facilities, interest and exchange rate hedging instruments, executor, trustee, stockbroking, life assurance and investment fund management, fund administration and custodial services and financial advisory services, including mergers and acquisitions and underwriting. With the acquisition of New Ireland Assurance in December 1997 the Group has access to additional distribution channels and products for its life assurance and pensions business. The group provides services in multiple currencies, but primarily in the Euro.
The Bank operates telephone and online banking services for its customers under the name 365 phone and 365 online respectively. The telephone banking service was launched in 1996 and was formerly known as Banking 365. The online banking service followed in 1997 and was initially known as Banking 365 online. It also offers the Laser payment system.
Bank of Ireland
1 Donegal Square South
Belfast BT1 5LR
44 28 9043 3000
44 28 9043 3010 (fax)