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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Give your bank a bloody nose by ditching it for another one

Published 15/11/2015 | 02:30

The Central Bank had discloed that only 5,374 customers changed their current accounts in the State in the first half of this year — that is just 0.1pc
The Central Bank had discloed that only 5,374 customers changed their current accounts in the State in the first half of this year — that is just 0.1pc

It is time for the regulators to admit that attempts to get customers to switch bank accounts are not working. The regulator of the banks - the Central Bank - admitted recently that just 0.1pc of customers switched their current account in the first six months of this year.

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This is a clear sign of a lack of competition in the banking sector.

The data emerged at around the same time this journalist revealed in the Irish Independent that Bank of Ireland is set to impose unreasonable restrictions on cash withdrawals and lodgements carried out in its branches with the help of bank staff.

The Central Bank had outlined how just 5,374 customers changed their current account provider out of a total of 5,286,535 current accounts in the State in the first half of this year - that is just 0.1pc.

That is a miserable number, and is despite a surge in the number of complaints about current accounts.

Clearly something is wrong with such a low level of switchers, but it suits the elites in the banks who came close to running this country into the ground and then pulling off the audacious trick of forcing the little people to pick up the bill.

And you can bet your last euro that those dismal switching figures will bring a smile the faces of the bankers, because they give them licence to impose whatever fees, charges and outrageous cash and lodgement restrictions they want on the rest of us.

There has been very limited innovation in relation to products and fee structures on the part of the banks and this is reflected in the low level of switching.

With just six banks offering current accounts, it seems most people have either decided they are all the same, fear they will lose out if they switch to a different bank, or are not interested in moving.

The banks have failed consumers and continue to do so.

It is high time the Central Bank did more to stop them penalising their customers.

Closing your current account is a very effective way of punishing your bank. It is even better if you ditch a bank account in favour of doing your day-to-day financial transactions through a credit union or An Post. Both of these organisations are gearing up to take on the banks with transactions accounts.

In the meantime, the Central Bank must do more to promote switching under its code. It is not good enough for it to admit: "Switching levels under the switching code remain low."

And where is the Central Bank's consumer protection code when it comes to protecting older people from unreasonable actions by banks?

Central Bankers need to act.

Sunday Indo Business

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