3,000 more customers walk away from Northern Ireland's four main banks

Nearly 3,000 more customers switched away from the north's four main banks between January and June last year according to Bacs
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE north's four main banks haemorrhaged thousands more customers over the last year as people switched their current accounts to the likes of Santander, Nationwide and Halifax.

In the first six months of 2016, nearly 3,000 people turned away from the traditional lenders, according to figures from payments body Bacs.

Ulster Bank was the biggest loser from the region, with 1,186 customers jumping ship.

Figures for the other local banks show losses for the AIB Group UK (it includes First Trust Bank and Allied Irish Bank GB brands) of 686 while Danske Bank was down 569 customers and Bank of Ireland lost 520 accounts.

Yet despite consumers' awareness of the current account switching service reaching a record high in November, 23,500 fewer switches took place across the UK in 2016 compared with a year earlier.

Bacs, which oversees a seven-day switching service, said 1,010,423 switches were made between January and December - down from 1,033,939 in 2015.

Santander (up 46,208), Nationwide Building Society (up 24,990) and Halifax (up 22,101) continued to make particularly strong gains, with newer challengers Tesco Bank and TSB also seeing net increases.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently said it had accepted undertakings from Bacs to make improvements to the switching service within a year.

A previous investigation by the CMA found someone could save £92 a year on average by switching to a deal that better suits their needs. Savings of about £80 a year on average are available for small businesses by ditching and switching.

As part of the agreed improvements, Bacs has already extended a redirection period for stray payments going to the old account.


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