/ Money

I’m moving banks, why can’t I take my number?

I’m sure we can all recall the dilemma of the 1990s when we wanted to get a better phone deal without losing our phone number. There are now plenty of ways to get around this issue, so why can’t banks do the same?

Our research has found that six in ten people would be more likely to change bank if they could keep their bank account number. Are you attached to your number in the same way?

Well, we’re hosting an event in Parliament with Andrea Leadsom MP to discuss this idea further. Representatives from the banking sector, IT companies and a range of MPs, are getting together to discuss the benefits of introducing this system, how much it would cost and how you would go about introducing it.

The idea itself isn’t new. We discussed the concept of portable account numbers back in May 2011 and you had some mixed views on the topic. Some of you were keen on the idea and others questioned the cost and complexity of implementing such a scheme.

Take your direct debits with you

While we accept that the proposal may be complicated, we think that there are huge benefits to be had from account portability that need to be explored further.

Just to refresh, portable account numbers would give current account holders the ability to move their account to another bank without changing their account details, just as you do with mobile phone numbers. All your existing direct debits and standing orders would not have to be changed and would move to your new bank.

We think the government or the regulator should conduct a full, independent assessment into the costs and benefits of introducing portable account numbers. No-one in this country has really examined this issue in great detail despite the potential benefits to be had.

Hassle out of moving?

As well as making it as easy as possible to switch bank accounts and helping to promote better competition in the market, there could also be significant savings for companies, local authorities and government departments by reducing their admin costs whenever someone switches their account.

We understand that such a system is not going to be introduced overnight but with the right political leadership, and a firm intention that account portability should be a long-term goal, we could get to the same place with bank account numbers as we have with mobile ones.


As someone who banks with a bank which is repeatedly no.1 in consumer polls, a portable bank account isn’t something I’m interested in or likely to use. I do feel, however, that some banks might jump at the idea, as it’ll be a valid way to charge everyone more for everything.

And I hope they learn some of the lessons from switching utility provider as you frequently hear horror stories about that and isn’t that supposed to be easy now.

As someone who switched banks last year the process would be much simpler with a portable bank account number. For me there was a period of time where my wage had gone to my new account but some of my direct debits had not been transferred successfully in time and so I had to leave money in my old account – I was lucky to have money to cover this situation, other may not be as fortunate and would possibly get a bank charge for going overdrawn.

Portable bank acccount numbers would encourage people to switch and ditch a lot more knowing that wages and DD’s would not need to be thought about.

If this is done, it should be done at an international level so you can keep the same IBAN, wherever your account happens to be.