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KBC and Ulster Bank closures: 10,000 customers switching accounts every week

Banks fear backlog is building as customers scramble to find alternative bank


Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland chief executive Brian Hayes. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland chief executive Brian Hayes. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland chief executive Brian Hayes. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Almost 10,000 current accounts a week are now being opened as Ulster Bank and KBC customers scramble to find an alternative bank before their existing providers shut up shop here.

However, there are fears a huge backlog is building.

Since the start of the year, customers have opened 220,000 new personal accounts with the three main banks – AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB.

Even those unprecedented numbers are well short of the around half a million current accounts that will be shut automatically by Ulster Bank and KBC over the coming year if customers haven’t acted first.

New figures from the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) show more than 55,000 personal accounts were also opened by Bank of Ireland, AIB and Permanent TSB in the four weeks ending June 10. The numbers don’t include additional accounts being opened with alternative providers like An Post, Revolut or credit unions.

Ulster Bank has around 360,000 current accounts and 300,000 deposit account customers in Ireland, with customers now being given six months to switch or close an account after being contacted by the bank.

Ulster Bank started contacting customers about the need to close their accounts in April and plans to have closed down the last of the accounts next March.

KBC, which had around 130,000 current account customers when it announced its plan to leave the Irish market, began to notify customers last month that they have six months to find an alternative.

As with Ulster Bank, customers are being contacted in waves so it will be summer 2023 by the time the last round of six-month notices end.

Ulster Bank plans to cease customer transactions by the end of March 2023, while KBC also expects to end all transactions by the end of August 2023.

The BPFI has now launched a dedicated website to assist customers through the process.

Movingaccount.ie, provides a checklist for customers looking to open a new account or to switch to a new bank. It also offers advice on managing other services such as direct debits, overdrafts and card payments.

The Indo Daily: Don't bank on it: Everything you need to know about switching from Ulster and KBC banks

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The BPFI has partnered with Bank of Ireland, AIB and Permanent TSB, as well as credit unions and Bunq to launch the campaign.

Bunq, a Dutch fintech, launched in Ireland in May.

“While we’re very mindful there is still a job of work to be done in the weeks and month ahead these figures very much demonstrate the intensive efforts underway by the banks to onboard new customers as quickly and efficiently as possible,” BPFI chief executive Brian Hayes said.

He added that the moving of accounts for thousands of customers will be “a significant task” that will continue “well into the latter half of this year”.

Retail banks are also launching their own switching campaigns and have employed extra staff to handle the workload.

In May, AIB recorded the largest number of current and deposit account openings in a single week, with 11,000 people signing up for an account in the week to May 29.

Bank of Ireland said that applications at the beginning of last month were at double the normal rate.

Permanent TSB staff are now operating from 45 branches of Ulster Bank across Ireland to support customers rushing to make the switch directly. PTSB will also operate a number of pop-up branches around Ireland to support the move and has created a dedicated webpage to alert customers to mobile branch routes.

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