UK consumer group Which? is putting the squeeze on banks to introduce portable bank account numbers with the publication of new research that shows widespread support for the move among the general public
A new Which? poll of 2,057 adults found that 63% of the sample support the introduction of portable account numbers, with three in four believing that they would make it easier to move from one bank to another.
While more than half of the people surveyed (55%) have never switched their current account, six in ten (59%) say they would be more likely to change bank if they could keep their bank account number.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd says: "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."
The UK banking industry has committed to a project designed to make account switching easier for consumers and small business, but has stopped short of introducing portable account numbers on cost grounds. Instead, a watered-down plan to introduce a 'redirection' service for regular payments into and out of accounts with a guarantee of a maximum seven-day timeframe for moving between banks is set to be introduced in September next year.
Which? has drummed up support in Parliament for its campaign and will join Treasury select committee member Andrea Leadsom in hosting a joint event on the issue at the House of Commons today. Representatives from Lloyds, RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Metro Bank and Virgin Money are attending, along with members of the Treasury Select Committee, and the British Bankers Association.
Says Leadsom: "Customers are fed up of excuses from their banks. What they want is a massive shake-up of how banks work. Full bank account portability fits the bill perfectly. And it wouldn't just be customers who'd be better off."