Portable current account number 'preferred'
Consumers are more likely to switch their bank if they could keep their account number, a poll has found.
More than half of those surveyed (55%) have never switched their current account.
The findings come as representatives from Lloyds, RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Metro Bank and Virgin Money meet with members of the Treasury Select Committee and the British Bankers' Association at an event hosted by Which? to encourage them to introduce portable account numbers.
The consumer watchdog said portable account numbers would remove the need for people to change existing direct debits and standing orders and make switching banks as easy as changing mobile phone providers, resulting in greater competition and better products and customer service.
Other benefits could include changes to the agency clearing service that would make it easier for smaller banks to start up and a smaller chance of taxpayers bailing out the banks again because the regulator could shut down a failing bank and transfer personal and business accounts to another bank.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "One of the most important ways that consumers can influence the broken banking culture in this country is by voting with their feet and switching to another bank. Yet half of consumers have never changed current accounts. With consumer trust in banking at an all-time low, we want to see big change in banking with banks for customers, not bankers. We urge the Government to seriously look at introducing portable account numbers to make switching easier for consumers."
MP Andrea Leadsom, a member of the Treasury Select Committee who is co-hosting the banks' meeting with Which?, said: "Customers are fed up of excuses from their banks. What they want is a massive shake-up of how banks work. Full bank account portability fits the bill perfectly. And it wouldn't just be customers who'd be better off.
"At one stroke, huge barriers to entry for new banks would be torn down. Regulators would instantaneously be able to move deposits out of a failing bank, to prevent a run like we saw with Northern Rock. And the current high levels of bank losses due to fraud would be significantly reduced. The sooner bank customers can switch accounts like they change mobile phone providers, the better it will be for everyone."