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Three million customers 'switch current account under new service'

Published 16/09/2016

The Competition and Markets Authority found someone could save 92 pounds a year on average by switching accounts
The Competition and Markets Authority found someone could save 92 pounds a year on average by switching accounts

More than three million current account customers have ditched their old bank or building society and switched to a new one in the three years since a new service to take the hassle out of switching was launched.

Figures from Bacs, which manages the current account switch service (Cass), show that since its launch on September 16 2013, there have been 3,240,640 successful switches, including 73,899 small business accounts.

The service gives people, small businesses, charities, and trusts a simpler way of switching current accounts.

It was designed to ramp up competition within the banking sector, support the entry of new banks, and make it easier when switching from one bank or building society to another.

The service allows people to switch their account within seven working days. Previously, it could take up to 30 working days to do this. Payments are also automatically swapped over to the new account.

A guarantee with the scheme means payments accidentally made to or requested from the old account are automatically redirected to the new account.

However, commentators have said that the numbers of people switching are still too low.

A recent report from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found someone could save £92 a year on average by switching to a deal that better suits their needs. Savings of around £80 a year on average are available for small businesses by ditching and switching.

In August, the CMA unveiled a package of measures to help customers to shop around to get a better deal, after finding older and larger banks still do not have to compete hard enough for customers' business. As part of the CMA's plans, banks will be required to speed up advances in technology.

A new multi-million pound campaign to further raise awareness and confidence in the switching service will launch on Saturday.

Anne Pieckielon, Bacs' director of product and strategy, said: "An important element of our work is to make sure that people, as well as small businesses and charities, understand how easy it is to switch between banking providers using the service, and our new advertising campaign will help to inform these important audiences still further."

Bacs said it is working with banking providers to deliver harmonised account opening procedures across the industry, which will be designed to include confirmation of overdraft approval, as well as the amount and terms of the overdraft before a customer commits to the switch.

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