Why can’t we take our bank account number with us when we switch banks? It would make life a whole lot simpler, and it would encourage more of us to switch to a better account.
When you switch your telephone from one provider to the next you can take your number with you.
This makes life easier as you don’t have to tell everyone you know your new number.
Yet when you switch your bank account you get a new account number. Wouldn’t it make life easier if you could just keep your old one?
Switching is such a chore
I’ve written on this site before about my inability to change my current account provider. As for an update on that saga… let’s say it’s a work in progress.
However, one of the things holding me back is the potential for mistakes to be made. Direct debits going astray as my account is switched, important-looking letters covered in red ink dropping through my letterbox… these fear could be eradicated if you could transfer your account number with you.
This idea appears to be gaining some traction in recent years and it’s something we’ve campaigned for here at Which?. Now other people appear to be jumping onto our portable bandwagon.
Conservative MP, and member of the influential Treasury Select Committee, Andrea Leadsom recently called for the introduction of a portable account number. The Independent Commission on Banking, chaired by Sir John Vickers, referred to the idea in its interim report and recommended that it should be ‘reconsidered’.
Is the system too costly?
There are arguments against creating a portable account number. When we have mentioned this issue to the industry they’ve always cited the cost as prohibitive. This may be so, but we are yet to see an independent assessment into the costs of introducing a portable account number.
Similarly, we don’t know the costs that the current system imposes on consumers. It could be that there is an overall benefit in changing the system.
Do you think that introducing portable account numbers would be an expensive folly? Or would the opportunity to take your bank account number, switch it over to a new bank, and then carry on banking make people more likely to switch accounts?