The long-awaited launch of the Midata scheme, which allows customers to compare current accounts using their own data and potentially save hundreds of pounds, occurred today.
We’ve asked the government and banks to make Midata happen and we’re glad that the scheme is up and running. It can help consumers to cut through the complexity of current account charges and see if they can get a better deal.
However, though we’ve found that it can help you save money, there are still some glitches on the site which are preventing customers getting the best deal.
Find out more: How to choose the best current account – see our top tips
How does it work?
The top six banking groups have signed up to the scheme – meaning customers of the brands listed below can use their own data to undertake a current account comparison for the first time, via the website Gocompare.
In order to use the site, customers must log in to their online banking and download their data in the .csv file format. Gocompare have provided a blue tab entitled ‘search using Midata’ – once you click on this you will be asked to upload the .csv file.
The site then produces a personalised account comparison, and shows you the amount you could earn – or lose – if you switched to any of the accounts currently on the market. The site also shows you how much you are currently earning or paying on the account you are currently using.
Customers of the following banks can upload their data and start comparing accounts.
Barclays, Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds, M&S, Nationwide, Natwest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Ulster Bank.
At the moment Midata can’t be accessed through tablets and phones if they can’t handle .csv format files – we’d like the banks to work to change this.
Find out more: Online banking security – see our tips on how to stay safe
What to watch out for…
We think the tool could help you save money but would advise customers to watch out for the following glitches and snags:
- The tool assumes that you would have the same authorised overdraft limit with any provider, but this may not be true when you actually switch. You might also need to know your existing overdraft limit.
- A box describing how interest and overdraft rate results are calculated sits above the comparison table. Beware this refers to the scenario by which the account details – like overdraft rate and credit interest – are calculated and expressed, not to the amount you will make or lose on your account.
- Currently an ‘annual value’ is given once the comparison is made. However the time period across which the value is calculated can be changed. When you do this it seems that sometimes in fact a ‘total’ value across the time period is generated, rather than an ‘annual’ value per year.
- If your current provider offers a switching incentive this will be factored into its value – when in fact it is impossible to receive a switching incentive for remaining at your current provider.
- The site seems to be attributing very high charges to some providers which are incorrect – if you are considering switching to one of these providers, double check the information you find on Gocompare with that available on the provider’s own site.
- Some comparisons seem not to be completing correctly – we found examples of overdraft charges and interest not being flagged upon comparison. Double check the account’s features to ensure the value that has been produced is accurate.
We forwarded our findings to Gocompare and they have assured us that they’ll be setting these glitches straight in the next couple of days. Until then, be aware of them.