The consumer advocate and product comparison company Which? have joined forces with Andrea Leadsom to advocate that banks create portable account numbers, allowing customers to keep their account number when they change banks.
The idea is that this would make changing your bank account much easier. Currently, it’s necessary to make sure that all of your bills are updated to take money from your new account, something which it can be difficult to do anyway, and you must also ensure that all your incomings are going to the right account. If you find that a month’s salary has been deposited into the wrong account, you’re not going to be happy.
Why do they want changing bank accounts to be easier? Well, with the banks doing so much wrong recently, people are repeatedly looking at ways to force them to sort their act out, something they don’t appear to be willing to do on their own.
The executive director of Which?, Richard Lloyd, believes that allowing people to change accounts much more easily would lead to the banks reforming: “One of the most important ways that consumers can influence the broken banking culture in this country is by voting with their feet and switching to another bank. We urge the Government to seriously look at introducing portable account numbers to make switching easier for consumers.”
However, the banks say that implementing this would be far too expensive. Phone operators made the same arguments before that became possible, but now companies have to allow customers to keep their numbers and the amount of people changing their mobile provider has shot up, forcing companies to provide better deals for consumers. This is exactly what Which? hopes will happen with the banks.
If it’s successful, then who knows where it could stop? Even energy companies could soon find they have to offer competitive pricing.