Around 593,000 Brits switched their bank account provider in the first six months of 2014, a 16% year-on-year increase, suggesting many are taking advantage of a new system designed to make the process quicker and easier.
Launched last autumn, the free current account switch service allows people to move providers within seven working days, down from the previous average of 18 to 30 days. Customers do not need to liaise with their old provider and get to choose the exact date of the move, with all outgoing and incoming payments redirected to the new account.
With a major advertising campaign behind it, takeup has benefited from strong customer recognition. A Payments Council-commissioned poll found that, unprompted, 67% of people are now aware of the system, up from 64% at the start of the year. Confidence has also risen, from 63% to 65%.
Adrian Kamellard, chief executive, Payments Council, says: "Awareness and confidence levels are up as individuals, small businesses and charities are getting the message that switching has become easy and straightforward. Competition is growing as existing providers are upping their offerings and challenger banks are competing to attract new customers. This all amounts to greater choice and good news for customers."
Despite the positive figures, politicians are still keen on going further and forcing full account portability on banks. At the behest of the government, the new payments regulator is currently working on a review into the costs and benefits of such a system, which would cost banks several billion pounds but has been championed by treasury minister Andrea Leadsom.