It's been a year since the Current Account Switch Service was launched and the Payments Council has delivered its latest figures on the success – or otherwise – of the service. Well, it looks like things going well – in the first full 11 months since its launch (1st October 2013 to 31st August 2014), 1.1 million customers have taken the plunge and switched accounts.
This is an increase of 19% compared with the same period a year before, when 925,985 switches took place. Happily, it seems like the switching process is becoming an increasingly painless experience as well – 88% of consumers who have switched felt that there was very little effort involved on their part, while the same number said it was quick and 89% said the process was entirely error-free.
Awareness of the service has also increased, with 70% of the public now aware of it – not far from the target of 75%, set for the end of June next year – and 61% are confident about what the new service is and how it works. It seems to be working well, with the service having cut the time it takes to switch bank accounts to just seven working days or less, when previously customers would have been waiting for an average of 18 to 30 days.
Gerard Lemos, executive chairman of the Payments Council, commented: "The service was designed to make life easier for customers by removing barriers to switching, with the aim of boosting competition in the banking sector. It's clear from reviewing its very first year that it's made great ground – empowering customers with the ability to switch their bank account easily and quickly if they choose to do so."
So, a resounding success! At least, that's what the Payments Council is saying, but other industry bodies aren't quite so sure. According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the actual number of people switching has remained relatively low, with only 2.2% of current account holders having actually switched account.
But is that really the point? The remaining 97.8% of customers could simply be happy where they are, and the fact that awareness of the switching service has increased so significantly means more people realise that changing accounts could be a quick and painless option should they wish.
It couldn't be simpler to get the process started. Once you've chosen your new account – check out our comparison tables to consider the options – all you have to do is speak to your new provider, and they'll take complete responsibility for the switching process and will close your old account once the switch is complete. There's even the backing of the Switch Guarantee, so if anything were to go wrong, you wouldn't lose out financially. A redirection service captures any payments attempted to be made to, or taken from, the old account and redirects them to your new account, and you get to choose the date of the switch, so you're in complete control.
So, if you're not happy with your account, there's never been a better time to switch. The process will be quick, simple and hassle-free, and with so many accounts to choose from these days – from those offering high rates of interest to cashback on your spending, and even packaged accounts that include the likes of gadget and travel insurance – you could soon find one that meets your financial needs.
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Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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