The Money Shot: switch, please

Image of a viking jumping off a ship
A very literal visual representation of 'jumping ship'
"What’s that hoving into view? Why, it’s a hugely exciting new thing called midata, and it’s going to change the way people think about their banking forever"
  • | by Kristian Dando

Back in 2013, lots of people were getting very excited about the Current Account Switch Service – not least us at Castle Covered.

The thinking was that by drastically reducing the time it took to jump account from one bank or building society to another, along with taking out all the faff of rearranging direct debits and payment details, the banking system would be shaken up beyond recognition.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had hoped for a mass migration of cheesed-off customers finally taking matters into their own hands, with big banks at last being forced to offer better products and services to consumers – because if they didn’t their customers would just go elsewhere, right?

Er, except it hasn’t quite worked out like that. In fact, the uptake on seven-day switching has been lukewarm at best.

The FCA has reported that, of all UK current account customers, about 3% have actually used the service. The watchdog reckons that a lack of awareness, plus general consumer scepticism over whether the banks can actually deliver rapid, hassle-free switching like they say they can, is to blame.

But what can be done to give this nobly intentioned yet apathetically welcomed initiative the shot in the arm it so desperately needs?

Well, the FCA has mooted that customers being able to keep their account numbers would be an easy fix, but apparently it would be ruinously expensive for the banks. So that’s out of the question for now then. Elsewhere, George Osborne had his 10 pence on the matter and called for the time to be slashed from seven days to five.

But wait! What’s that hoving into view? Why, it’s a hugely exciting new thing called midata, and it’s going to change the way people think about their banking forever.

Top computer boffins have spent years developing a system that analyses people’s current account details to help them decide on the best account for them – and Gocompare.com is going to be the first comparison site to offer it later this month. How thrilling!

Matt Sanders, Gocompare.com’s resident money expert, is just one person who’s visibly buzzing at this development. He opined: "Despite initiatives such as the seven-day switch guarantee, consumers are reluctant to ditch under-performing banks.

“Midata will force banks and building societies to offer bank accounts that customers really want and need," he enthused, with an excitable glint in his eye.

So, be sure to join in on what promises to be nothing short of a revolutionary way of switching current account here on 26 March  – it’ll change the way you think about banking for good.

News in brief

Halifax is trialling technology which will let customers get money out with their pulse rather than a Pin.

Former Labour minister Lord Hutton has rather optimistically called for people to put 15% of their earnings away for retirement.

About three million people are owed money by their energy supplier, according to an initiative called My Energy Credit.

Research from housing charity Shelter has revealed that more and more people are considering volunteering to be subjects of medical research in order to get enough money for a deposit for a house.

On Covered mag this week

Find out how to get back and forth from airports which are a long way away from where they claim to be with our handy guide.

We sent roving motoring writer Phil Huff to Switzerland to report on the annual Geneva Motor Show. WARNING: There will be Toblerone references.

Join us next week for another THRILLING instalment of THE MONEY SHOT. In the meantime, email us with your letters