Switching bank accounts is set to get quicker

Cash machineIf you've ever switched bank accounts you'll know it isn't always the stress-free experience its purported to be by the bank that wants your business. You can find yourself on the phone to frustrating call centres in your lunch break, sorting out incorrect details or missed direct debits.

Well now the Payments Council is giving consumers a guarantee of a seven-day hassle-free switch.

The industry body has said improvements are needed to the way that banks handle business and retail customers who opt to transfer to rival banks, and that reforms will take place over the next two years.

As well as cutting the time it takes to switch accounts, the Payments Council said it would shift the responsibility for transferring regular payments into accounts, as well as payments out, from consumers and small business owners to the banks.

Gary Hocking, acting chief executive of the council, said: "We are looking to give customers total peace of mind that they can switch their bank account with ease."

Customers tend to switch between one of the big four banks – Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland – although Santander has increased its share of the small business market in recent years.

Yet the timely and frustrating process can put us off switching to more competitive accounts, and figures suggest just 8% of bank customers switched in the last five years.
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