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17th August 2018
FCA makes it easier for customers to use and compare current accounts
From 15th August, 2018, following action by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), consumers and small businesses will have better information about the services offered by current account providers. This should help them to find the right service for them, to get the most out of it, and to get help if things go wrong. The information will also help others such as comparison services and the media to compare current accounts.
Under the new rules, customers will be able to easily find standard information on providers’ websites about:
• how and when services and helplines are available;
• contact details for help, including for 24 hour helplines;
• how often the firm has had to report major operational and security incidents; and
• the published level of complaints made against the firm.
Providers must publish the information on their websites in a consistent format and the large banks must also make this information available electronically via online Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). As facilitated by the ‘Open Banking’ initiative, APIs are an important route through which third parties can access current account service information.
Larger banks must publish information on how likely people would be to recommend their bank – as well its online and mobile banking, branch and overdraft services – to friends, relatives or other businesses. Publishing this information in this way will promote effective competition by incentivising firms to offer better services in ways that are transparent and noticeable.
The information being published reflects what customers have said they would find useful when carrying out their everyday banking. This will help people to choose a current account that gives them what they value. Comparison sites and the media will also be able to compare more easily the services provided by different current account brands.
From November 2018, providers have undertaken to publish, in a common form, information highlighting the support they offer customers who have one of the four main characteristics of potential vulnerability outlined in the FCA’s 'Approach to Consumers 2018':
• Resilience – low ability to withstand financial or emotional shocks.
• Life Events – major life events such as bereavement or relationship breakdown.
• Capability – low knowledge of financial matters or low confidence in managing money.
• Health – conditions or illnesses that affect ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
From 15th February, 2019, the FCA will also require providers to publish information quarterly on how long it takes them to open a current account, and how long it takes them to replace a debit card.