No more banking headaches: The FCA wants to make it easier for consumers to compare current accounts

Lucy White
FCA compare current accounts
The FCA wants banks to publish information from the time it takes to open an account to how many security breaches it has suffered (Source: Getty)

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today launched proposals designed to help consumers compare personal and business current accounts.

Several key pieces of information should be made readily available by banks and firms, it said, from the time it takes to open an account to how many security breaches have been suffered by the bank.

The information should be available to price comparison websites, and the FCA hopes therefore to drive competition and increase the quality of service.

“Customers tell us they think 'all banks are the same' and so they are discouraged from looking for current accounts offering better performance,” said Christopher Woolard, the FCA's executive director of strategy and competition.

“These proposals represent a step forward, making it easier for consumers to judge whether their bank is offering good service and for firms to see if they are competing effectively against other providers.”

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The financial watchdog wants banks and firms which offer such accounts to publish information on:

How long it takes to open an account and get it up and running, including its overdraft facilities

How long it takes to replace a lost, stolen or stopped debit card

How long it takes to give someone access to a personal current account under a power of attorney

How and when customers can carry out various transactions, such as making payments and cancelling cheques, and whether 24-hour help is available

The number and type of major operational or security incidents

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"It will be interesting to see if the rules deliver the consumer benefits and impact on competition that are sought," said Chris Davidson a financial services regulatory lawyer at Pinsent Masons.

"The FCA plans to gather information about customers’ attitudes and behaviours in 2018 and that should be a good indicator of progress against the objectives."

Other recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) aim to encourage consumers to consider their banking arrangements, increase overdraft transparency, and make the market more competitive for small businesses.

The CMA has already launched the Open Banking initiative, a technology platform where consumers and small businesses can share their data with other banks and third parties to compare products.

Read more: Open Banking and PSD2 is an opportunity for change and collaboration

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