More than 35,000 people have started to switch their bank accounts since the launch last week of the UK Current Account Switch Service, according to the latest figures from the UK Payments Council.
The central IT system on which the service is built is also operating smoothly, confirmed the Council, with Bacs processing the switchovers as the operational platform provider behind the scheme. Each UK bank has had to connect to the platform and meet this technological challenge ahead of the 16 September start date.
According to the UK Payments Council update, price comparison websites in the UK have reported a surge in customer traffic to their switching sites since the launch of the new switching platform, which is intended to automate customers changing their retail bank accounts in Britain and make it as simple as redirecting your post. The surge in price comparison numbers is thought to have been caused by UK consumers doing their homework before switching and checking which accounts are most suited to their needs, claims the Council.
The first month’s official switching figures will not be published until the week commencing 21 October and it is to be hoped that 100s of thousands of users will be using the platform by then, if it is to fulfil its government-mandated aim of encouraging more competition in the retail banking market in the UK.
Commenting on the first week usage figures, Adrian Kamellard, chief executive officer (CEO) of the UK Payments Council, stressed that it was too early to tell what switching levels will be over the longer term, but he insisted that the new service has clearly got off to a great start.
“For us, getting the system successfully launched is only the first step – the next is to learn from what customers actually experience and if necessary to make any improvements. Everyone across the industry is determined to put in the work to get the switching experience as good as it can be for customers.”
Key features of the new UK Current Account Switch Service include:
- The service is free to use.
- The switch will be completed in seven working days – a substantial improvement on the previous process that could take between 18 and 30 working days.
- The customer can choose and agree the switch date with their new current account provider.
- All payments going out (e.g. Direct Debits) and those coming in (e.g. salary) will be moved from the old account to the new bank account.
- For 13 months any payments accidentally made to or requested from the old bank account will be automatically redirected to the new account.
- The new UK Current Account Switch Guarantee means that the customer will receive a refund of interest and charges on their old and new current accounts if anything goes wrong with the switch.