Current Account Switch Service works well for consumers, said city minister
Photo caption (left to right): Michael Chambers, Bacs and Harriett Balwin, economic secretary to the Treasury.
The success of the UK’s Current Account Switch Service was recognised by economic secretary to the Treasury, Harriett Baldwin as she welcomed new figures showing that March 2016 had seen the highest switching volumes since the service was launched almost three years ago. The minister also announced that the number of switches in the first part of 2016 grew by 20% over the last quarter of 2015.
The minister was opening an event organised by Bacs Payment Schemes Limited (Bacs), the company which operates and manages the Current Account Switch Service; the panel discussion brought together industry experts to look at how effectively the UK’s current account market is working for consumers and small businesses.
Harriett Baldwin said:
“Increasing competition in banking is part of the government’s plan to ensure customers get a better deal.
“So I am delighted that the latest figures from the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) show record levels of customers taking advantage of the service over the past three months.
“CASS is a service that truly works for customers, allowing them to vote with their feet and switch where they see a better deal – simply, reliably and quickly.”
Panellists at the event, chaired by Kevin Mountford from MoneySuperMarket, included Catherine McGrath, from Barclays, Atom Bank’s Edward Twiddy, Ian Cass from the Forum of Private Business, and Michael Chambers, who is Bacs’ CEO.
Lively discussion around topics such as impact of the Current Account Switch Service on products and switching, and the CMA’s inquiry into retail banking, found the panel agreeing that there was more work to be done on education, information, and collaboration.
Michael Chambers, Bacs’ said:
“We’ve had almost three million switches since launch but we have to ask ourselves if volumes are the most important measure. I’d rather look at the higher levels of competition we’re now seeing in the market. If you look at service and consumer experience these are also important measures.
“We’ve been working hard to educate and inform consumers and small businesses through our continuing marketing activity, but we do recognise there is more to be done.”
Changes in the market since the launch of the Current Account Switch Service in 2013 were also highlighted:
– The total number of current account products now offered has grown, standing at 143 in 2016 – at the last count, in 2011, there were 120.
– At the same time, numbers of banking providers offering current accounts has risen from 30 to 45, and since 2012, the Bank of England has granted licences to 21 providers. Large retailers have entered the market, too, including Tesco Bank and M&S.
– Banking providers are also embracing innovation, with an estimated 77 innovations in the sector over the same period.
– Complaints about current accounts have also dropped – there was a 10% decrease between July and December 2015, according to FCA figures.
Bacs also revealed that the second part of its research into the barriers to and drivers behind switching will be published shortly. The first paper can be downloaded here: www.bacs.co.uk/switchingpaper1
The Current Account Switch Service was launched in response to a need for increased competition in the banking industry, and allows customers – including individuals, small businesses, and small charities – to move easily and quickly between banking providers. It is being supported by a full awareness campaign, including current TV, radio, print, and digital advertising, as well as ongoing PR and social media campaigns. Information on the service and links to participating banks and building societies are available at www.simplerworld.co.uk