Belfast Telegraph

Thousands of customers depart from big Northern Ireland banks

By John Mulgrew

Almost 3,000 people have moved their current accounts away from Northern Ireland's big four banks, the latest figures have shown.

That's according to fresh statistics from the Current Account Switch Service, which covered a three-month period.

During the last quarter of 2015, the big four Northern Irish banks showed a net loss of 2,885 customer current accounts.

Almost 1,300 moved their accounts away from Ulster Bank, while 477 moved from Danske Bank.

And some 779 people moved their accounts elsewhere from the AIB Group in the UK, which includes First Trust.

Meanwhile, Bank of Ireland had a net current account loss of 330.

And across the UK, there have been more than one million current account switches using the scheme in the last year.

During the first six months of this year, 567,677 switches took place across the UK.

It was Halifax leading the way with fresh accounts, with a UK-wide net gain of more than 31,000 current accounts.

Meanwhile, the number of customers flocking to Santander using the current account switching service shrank back sharply after it announced hikes in fees for its flagship 123 account.

The data also suggests that Halifax, Nationwide Building Society and TSB have gained ground in the battle to win current account customers' business across the UK.

Santander made a net gain of 3,592 customers using the current account switching service between October 1 and December 31, 2015, according to data released by payments body Bacs.

While this was still an overall gain - at a time when many other major providers were making net customer losses - it marks a much smaller increase compared with the previous quarter, when Santander made a net gain of 51,000 customers between July 1 and September 30, 2015.

Santander has been considered one of the biggest "winners" of the industry's current account switching service, which was launched in 2013 to make it easier for customers to ditch their old provider and switch to a new deal.

Santander's innovative 123 current account pays cashback on household bills as well as 3% interest. But in January 2016, Santander increased the fee on its 123 account, from £2 to £5 a month.

While the fee hike did not come into force until 2016, plans for the increase were confirmed in September 2015.

Belfast Telegraph