This is why we should already be paying for our current accounts

Mark Roper
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Paying for current accounts would improve the services banks provide us with (Source: Getty)

The idea of paying for a current account is one that might rankle customers, but the reality is it could be the most beneficial system for users and banks.

The rationale is simple. When we pay for something, our expectation of that service is higher, when a cost is involved we almost always compare our options carefully to get the best value.

Brands in turn need to offer something we genuinely value at a competitive price in order to attract our custom.

By paying for current accounts, we would in turn force banks to work harder to better understand our needs, offer more relevant and tailored products, services and indeed rewards, to retain us as customers.

There may never be an end to free banking for everyone if we consider how ingrained it is in our society and the essence of social inclusion, which means that everyone should have access to a basic account.

The end of an era?

The UK Financial Conduct Authority has been considering whether to end the era of free bank accounts for quite some time. Indeed, we are the only country in the developed world to offer free services as a standard, and I predict that the end of free banking for everyone will come in time.

It is more likely that there will be very basic account facilities offered, with high penalties for any add on services. Simultaneously, any bespoke banking services will attract fees so vanilla and tailored services will develop in different directions.

In many respects we already pay for our accounts – we experience interest rates that are not competitive and are low, and banks charge for overdrafts and international payments.

Read more: Accounts with benefits: The perks of premium bank accounts

In this fast paced world of consumer empowerment, banks appreciate that they need to develop a deeper level of customer engagement to meet customer expectations and that the way to achieve this is by gaining more detailed insights about their customers and by consistently adding value.

Our research has shown that nearly two-thirds of us expect greater recognition and reward from banks for our loyalty.

We found that those who feel loyal to a bank are 72 per cent more likely to purchase a product from them in the future, and 70 per cent would be prepared to recommend a banking brand to their friends and family.

Hidden costs

At the moment there are many hidden costs associated with a current account.

By paying fees for services we do want and value, our financial services providers will need to be more transparent about the benefits and associated costs.

Read more: Four of the best bank accounts

Digital services will improve and our experiences will become more seamless in the near future, and banks certainly are focused on providing more relevant and personalised experiences from daily services to loyalty rewards.

So, as consumers, we should recognise that this evolution of banking must somehow be part funded by us if we want to self-select tailored services rather than be offered generic products and rewards.