Business

4,000 current account customers ditch their local banks over three months

Around 4,000 current account customers moved away from the four main Northern Ireland banks in the third quarter of last year, according to new figures
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NEARLY 4,000 current account customers ditched one of the north's four main banks in the third quarter of last year and switched elsewhere, new figures show.

In the UK as a whole, 1,002,029 switches took place during the year using the Current Account Switch Service (Cass) - the highest total since 1,010,423 in 2016.

And the stark figures for the regionally-based banks show that, in a single quarter of the year, 2,433 account holders defected from Bank of Ireland (that includes Post Office switches) while AIB Group UK (includes First Trust Bank and Allied Irish Bank GB switches) lost 732.

Meanwhile 398 customers walked away from Danske Bank and 332 left Ulster Bank in the quarter.

Since the seven-day switching service launched in 2016, some 6.3 million moves have been completed, 260,000 of which took place between October and December.

The service aims to take some of the hassle out of moving to a different bank or building society, swapping payments over automatically to the new account.

It can be used by individuals, small businesses and small charities.

Figures provided voluntarily by banks and building societies also show that, in the third quarter of 2019, Nationwide Building Society made the biggest gain among customers using Cass.

The figures do not include switches made by customers who did not use the service.

HSBC also made big gains from customers moving to it, as did digital challengers Monzo and Starling Bank.

Banking giants including Halifax, Lloyds Bank, NatWest and RBS saw more customers using Cass to switch away than joining up between July and September last year.

Over the past three years, of those over the age of 45 who switched, 75 per cent used Cass, as did 41 per cent of under-25s.

Many banks have recently announced changes to their overdraft charging structures as they prepare to comply with new rules from the regulator which come into force from April.

The changes, which will make overdraft pricing clearer and easier to compare with what other banks are offering, may prompt a further wave of people looking to move to a current account that is more suitable for their needs.

Matthew Hunt, chief operating officer of Pay.UK, which owns and operates Cass, said: "Although switching figures are increasing, there are still many people who could be taking advantage of the opportunities presented by moving their current account.

"This is particularly true of those in younger age groups and those considered financially vulnerable.

"We work to bring the benefits of switching to all by making it easy and hassle-free, allowing people to move to an account which works better for them, whatever their financial situation."

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