35,000 customers switch banks in first week of new scheme

According to reports, around 35,000 Britons have moved their current accounts during the first week of a new industry switching scheme aimed at promoting greater competition in the banking sector.

Last week the Payments Council announced the launch of the Current Account Switching Service, which involves 33 banks and building societies, including Halifax, Barclays, Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale.

The idea, which is currently being promoted on TV, radio and online, with banks involved putting millions behind advertising, is meant to make switching easier for individuals and small businesses. It reduces switching times to seven working days, increases customer control and removes the need for liaising with an old provider, with a secure cross-over period and automatic redirecting service.

The number, first reported by Sky's City editor Mark Kleinman, is expected to be officially confirmed later on today.

Speaking at the launch last week, Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the Payments Council, said:

Today marks the beginning of a new era for competition and consumer choice in the current account market. Over the past two years multiple financial institutions have come together to design and implement this new, free and standardised service which will raise the bar internationally for retail banking.