The new UK Current Account Switch Service starts today on 16 September with 33 banks signed up to offer access to the shared technology platform which facilitates easy bank account switching with the aim of encouraging more competition in UK retail banking.
Overseen by the UK Payments Council and delivered by the Bacs automated clearing house (ACH) technology platform, which each bank and building society in the UK has to link to in order to offer the government mandated switching service, the new UK Current Account Switch Service will add some more minor banks next year, and any newly spun-out brands, but it already covers the vast majority of UK current account holders with Barclays, HSBC, Nationwide, RBS/NatWest, Santander, and other big players all offering the service as from today.
The new service is designed to make it simpler for customers to change their UK retail bank by ensuring that all direct debits, standing orders, account information, balances, and so forth automatically follow the customer if they decide to switch banks, thereby encouraging more competition into the sector. The idea is to make it as easy and hassle-free to switch banks as it currently is to redirect your post for a year, but there has obviously been a lot of back-end work required by the 33 UK banks and building societies signed up to use the new Bacs operated service.
Seven-day Automated Switching Service
The new, standardised Current Account Switch Service will reduce switching times to just seven working days. Customers will now have control over the date when their current account will switch from their old provider to a new provider and they will be protected by the new Current Account Switch Guarantee and supporting Trustmark.
The new service will also remove the need for customers to liaise with their old bank or building society when they have made the decision to switch. The new provider will take full responsibility for delivering the switch and the customer’s old current account will close once the switch is complete. For 13 months from the switch date a new centralised redirection service will also capture any payments made to the old account by accident and redirect them to the customer’s new account.
From today a multi-million pound UK advertising campaign using animated animal characters will also go live across TV, outdoor, print, radio, online and social media in the UK, building awareness of the new service and hopefully ensuring it attracts volume to justify the investment.
Creating a ‘simpler world’ for account switching, with an associated www.simplerworld.co.uk website, the advertising campaign draws on the behavioural traits of each of the animated characters to emphasise the key benefits of the service in comparison to the past. All advertising will also include the Current Account Switch Guarantee Trustmark, designed to give consumers trust and confidence when switching current accounts. From today, banks and building societies offering the new service will display this Trustmark and deliver the benefits that make up the Current Account Switch Guarantee.
Commenting on the launch, Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the Payments Council, said: “Today marks the beginning of a new era for competition and consumer choice in the UK current account market. Over the past two years multiple financial institutions have come together to design and implement this new, free and standardised service which will raise the bar internationally for retail banking.
“Compared with what the industry could offer before, the new UK Current Account Switch Service delivers a process in which consumers can now have confidence and trust, which is backed for the first time by the Current Account Switch Guarantee. The new service also removes the barriers to switching that used to exist by making the whole process simple and hassle-free. Switching times will also be dramatically reduced to just seven working days and crucially we have put customers in control of their own switch date.
“We will watch with interest over the next few months to see the effects that come as a result of the new, simpler world of current account switching.”