Byline: CLARE HALL
TELEPHONE banking pioneer First Direct has really set the industry buzzing.
It was a revolutionary concept 10 years ago and the firm virtually had the field to itself.
Now most banking rivals have switched on to the idea and there is only one major current account player - Woolwich - which does not offer a similar service.
Since its early days, the customer
What is on offer at the end of the line base of First Direct, the 'branch-less' offshoot of Midland Bank, has expanded from an experimental few to 900,000. It attracts a further 10,000 new customers each month.
The appeal is clear.
While most people were struggling to get to their banks before the 3.30 closing time, First Direct customers were nonchalantly paying bills at midnight, or checking balances before dawn.
At first the only rival was Girobank, but its service never really captured the public's imagination.
However, the bigger banks know a nice …