59% more likely to switch banks with 'portable' account number
Published 13 September 2012 by Helen Gradwell
'Portable' account numbers could make switching bank accounts simpler and faster - and Which? is calling on banks to introduce the system in the UK.
A new Which? survey has found that 55% of people surveyed had never switched their bank account - but 59% would be more likely to switch if they could keep their account number.
63% supported the idea of portable account numbers in the UK, and 76% thought that this would make the whole switching process a lot easier.
A joint event is being hosted today (by Andrea Leadsom MP and Which?) at the House of Commons. It aims to encourage banks to introduce 'portable' account numbers to make the switching process simpler. Members of the British Bankers Association and the Treasury Select Committee will be in attendance - along with representatives from several high street banks.
So how would a portable account number work? Well, it basically means that if a customer moved to a different bank account, they'd be able to take their account number with them. That would mean that they wouldn't have to change any of their direct debits or standing orders. It might increase competition on the high street too - as banks would have to offer better customer service and products to attract customers (who would be more willing to switch).
There might be other advantages too - for example if a bank needed bailing out. Instead of using taxpayers' money, the regulator could shut the bank down and transfer business and personal accounts to another bank more easily.
There could also be significant savings in administration for local authorities, companies and government departments. At the moment, when a customer switches their bank account, all companies that interact with that account must change the details on their systems.
An expert from thinkmoney said: "Portable account numbers could make switching bank accounts a lot easier. This may encourage more customers to search for a bank account that's right for them, instead of simply sticking with the one they've always used."