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2.16 million current accounts switched since launch of seven-day service

More than two million current account holders have switched their provider since a service was launched two years ago today to make it easier to move to a better deal, figures from Bacs show.

But the number of current account switches taking place over the year to August was down by 4% - or more than 51,000 switches - compared with the first year that the scheme was up and running.

The figures were released to mark two years since the launch of the seven-day switching service, which aims to help ramp up competition in the current account sector by taking the hassle out of changing bank or building society.

They show that since the scheme was launched, some 2.16 million current accounts have been switched.

Between September 2014 and August 2015, a total of 1,059,299 switches took place. But this represents a 4% fall compared with the first year of the switching scheme, when 1,110,508 switches were recorded.

From September 18, a new multimillion-pound awareness-raising drive will tell people about the scheme, using TV advertising as well as using print and online media as well as social media campaigns.

Bacs said it monitors awareness of the service on an ongoing basis and will continue to do so throughout the campaign.

In July, Bacs released the results of some consumer research which found that 69% of people had heard of the current account switch service - a figure which was below a 75% target for customer awareness set for the middle of 2015.

The switching service was launched on September 16 2013. It was previously overseen by the now-defunct Payments Council and Bacs took over the service earlier this year.

The service has cut the length of time it takes to switch a current account from up to 30 working days to just seven. All outgoing and incoming payments are automatically moved to the new account. Payments accidentally made to or requested from the old account are automatically redirected to the new account for 36 months after an account is switched.

Customers using the service are guaranteed not to be left out of pocket if anything goes wrong with the service, which is managed and owned by Bacs, the company responsible for direct debit and Bacs direct credit in the UK.

Bacs said that research among those using the service shows that nine out of 10 are satisfied with their switching experience.

The service can be used by small businesses, trusts and small charities as well as people.

It is now offered by 40 high street banks and building societies, up from 33 at launch, giving almost total coverage of the current account market.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Harriett Baldwin, said the new awareness campaign "will help make sure that the service can continue to help customers hold their banks to account by allowing them to vote with their feet".

Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, said further "far reaching" reforms are needed to increase competition across the current account market.

He said: "While it's encouraging to see people are using the current account switch service, it's clear this alone won't be enough to tackle the dominance of the big banks."


From Belfast Telegraph