Banks told to publish more information to help users compare accounts

25 July 2017

Banks and buildings societies will have to publish more information under new plans to help consumers better compare current accounts.

Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has proposed that firms which offer current accounts will have to publish service information about:

  • How long it takes to open an account and have features of the account working, including overdraft facilities.
  • How long it takes to replace a lost, stolen or stopped debit card.
  • How long it takes to give someone access to a personal current account under a power of attorney.
  • How and when customers can carry out various transactions, including making payments or cancelling a cheque, and whether 24-hour help is available.
  • The number and type of major operational or security incidents.

The idea is for the information to be published online in a place that will be easy for consumers to access and compare. It will also be available for use by comparison services.

In turn, the FCA expects this increased information to drive competition between firms.

The consultation is open until 25 September 2017 and the FCA hopes banks will start publishing this information in mid-August 2018.

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, says: “Customers tell us they think “all banks are the same” and so they are discouraged from looking for current accounts offering better performance. We know from our consumer research and the CMA’s report that consumers and small businesses are really interested to know about the service their bank or building society offers compared to other firms.

“These proposals represent a step forward, making it easier for consumers to judge whether their bank is offering good service and for firms to see if they are competing effectively against other providers.”

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at comparison site uSwitch adds: “The number of people moving their bank account has been falling year-on-year. The banks have realised they do not need to compete and can get away with providing a time-limited cash incentive whenever they need to boost their switching numbers. This apathy reinforces the need for a significant shake-up of the current account market.”

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