Keeping bank account number would boost switching say consumersWhich? calls for portable bank account numbers

13 September 2012

bank sign

Consumers would be more likely to switch their bank if they could keep their account number, according to new Which? research.

A new Which? poll of 2,057 adults has found widespread support for portable bank account numbers, with the majority of people saying they'd be more likely to switch if they could take their account number with them. Key survey findings include:

  • Six in ten people (59%) say they would be more likely to change bank if they could keep their bank account number.
  • More than six in ten people (63%) support the introduction of portable account numbers in the UK.
  • Three-quarters (76%) believe that the introduction of portable account numbers would make switching bank accounts easier.
  • More than half of the people surveyed (55%) have never switched their current account.

Portable bank account numbers to encourage switching

The findings come as Which? and Andrea Leadsom MP today host a joint event at the House of Commons to encourage banks to introduce portable account numbers. Representatives from Lloyds, RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Metro Bank and Virgin Money are attending, along with members of the Treasury Select Committee, and the British Bankers Association.

Why does Which? want portable bank account numbers?

The introduction of portable account numbers means consumers could move their current account to another bank more easily – simply taking their account number with them, removing the need to change existing direct debits and standing orders. This would make switching banks as easy as changing mobile phone providers and would increase competition on the high street, forcing the banks to genuinely compete for customers and to develop better products and customer service.

Portable account numbers could also produce many other benefits, creating changes to the agency clearing service that would make it easier for smaller banks to start-up, thereby increasing competition on the high street.  It may also reduce the chances of taxpayers having to bail out the banks again, because the regulator could shut down a failing bank and transfer personal and business accounts to another existing bank.

Half of consumers have never switched bank account

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: 'One of the most important ways that consumers can influence the broken banking culture in this country is by voting with their feet and switching to another bank. Yet half of consumers have never changed current accounts.

'With consumer trust in banking at an all-time low, we want to see big change in banking with banks for customers, not bankers. We urge the Government to seriously look at introducing portable account numbers to make switching easier for consumers.'

Andrea Leadsom MP and member of the Treasury Select Committee said: 'Customers are fed up of excuses from their banks. What they want is a massive shake-up of how banks work. Full bank account portability fits the bill perfectly. And it wouldn’t just be customers who'd be better off.'

More on this...

  • Bank accounts - our reviews of the best bank accounts if you're always in credit or dip into overdraft
  • Switching your bank account - our step-by-step guide to switching your current account
  • How to complain about financial services - our guide to getting redress for poor service or products