Portable account numbers would encourage people to switch banks

| September 13, 2012
Portable account numbers would encourage people to banks

Switching your bank account is commonly believed to be fraught with difficulties, but consumer group Which? has discovered that more people would consider switching if they could keep their bank account number.

Seventy-six per cent of the 2,057 people polled by Which? thought switching would be easier if they could keep their account number.

Sixty-three per cent of those polled said they support the introduction of portable account numbers, while 59 per cent said they would be more likely to switch banks if they did not have to change their details.

Fifty-five per cent of those polled had never switched their current account.

Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which? said: “One of the most important ways that consumers can influence the broken banking culture in this country is by voting with their feet and switching to another bank. Yet half of consumers have never changed current accounts.a�?

Allowing customers to take their account numbers to another bank would eliminate the need for direct debits and standing orders to be altered.

Concern about missing payments during the switching process often deters people from moving to accounts that might be more suitable for their needs.

Lloyds, HSBC, RBS and Barclays are to discuss portable account numbers with MPs and the British Bankers Association at an event hosted by Which?

The introduction of portable bank account numbers could lead to greater competition, better products and improved customer service, Which? says.

It could also offer greater protection to customers as it would allow the financial regulator to close down a failing bank and transfer personal and business accounts to a different bank.

Customers thinking of switching account may be attracted by recent newcomers to the market offering a different style of customer service to traditional banks.

Marks & Spencer is rolling-out bank branches in many of its stores, while Metro Bank is also expanding.

A recent survey by uSwitch found that less than 10% of people believe that banks offer the best value for money, with many people willing to trust retailers with their bank account.

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