April 11, 2014 / 1:17 AM / 6 years ago

More Britons move banks as new rules speed up process

A sign for Bank Street and high rise offices are pictured in the financial district Canary Wharf in London in this October 21, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Luke Macgregor/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - New rules making it easier for Britons to switch banks resulted in a 14 percent increase in the number of customers moving accounts in the six months since they were introduced, the Payments Council said on Friday.

The new rules, introduced last October, ensure customers can switch accounts within seven working days with all outgoing and incoming payments automatically transferred.

They are part of a range of measures designed to break the dominance of Britain’s four biggest banks - Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and HSBC - which between them provide three-quarters of all UK personal current accounts.

The Payments Council, which is responsible for the new service, said 609,300 accounts had been moved in the six months since the rules were introduced compared with 532,500 the year before. It also said more than two-thirds of Britons were now aware of the new rules.

“There’s been a noticeable surge of advertising activity from current account providers big and small, suggesting the new service is helping foster competition and choice for customers,” said Gary Hocking, managing director of the Payments Council.

MPs and regulators believe a lack of choice has been a factor behind scandals such as the mis-selling of loan insurance and complex interest rate hedging products, which have cost banks around 25 billion pounds in compensation.

Reporting by Matt Scuffham. Editing by Jane Merriman

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