Vladimir Gerasimov - stock.adobe

Final months of 2022 saw highest ever number of bank account switches

More people than ever before switched their current account provider using the government’s switching service

More people than ever before switched current account providers in the final three months of last year, with 376,000 moving to a new bank.

In November alone, more than 157,000 UK consumers moved their current account to a new bank using the government’s Current Account Switching Service (Cass), which is in its 10th year of operation.

The figures from Pay.UK, which runs the Cass service, revealed a significant leap compared with the same period in 2021, when about 250,000 switched accounts – a record number at the time.

Cass was launched in 2013, enabling account switching in seven days – much faster than the 30 days it used to take. At the time, the UK government was eager to stimulate competition in the retail banking sector after the financial crisis that began in 2008. Vocalink built the service’s IT platform, with CGI overseeing the two-year project, which cost £750m.

Since its launch, the fintech industry has exploded, and today there are many options available to consumers in financial services, offered by digital challenger banks and other digital-led finance providers.

David Piper, head of payments operations at Pay.UK, said: “It is encouraging to see the highest level of switches ever this quarter, demonstrating the continued relevance of the service to consumers and businesses across the UK.”

“Those considering a new current account, for whatever reason, can be assured that the Current Account Switch Service has facilitated nearly nine million switches through a quick, free and easy process,” added Piper.

High street banks HSBC and Santander gained the most new customers through the switching service. But digital challenger banks Starling and Monzo were next in line. These digital-first current account providers are part of the fintech revolution, offering alternatives – often app-based – that use the latest technology to improve and personalise services.

Santander made net gains of over 29,000 new customers through Cass, HSBC gained about 13,000, while Starling Bank and Monzo Bank added around 9,000 and 6,000 respectively.

According to Cass, the main reason cited for switching was online banking, with 46% of respondents citing that as a reason for their decision. Customer service was the next most influential factor in convincing people to change banks (42%). And 40% said they were attracted by easier-to-use mobile banking at their new current account provider.

Challenger digital banks and other fintech firms could win new customers through tools to help people manage finances during the current cost-of-living crisis, with financial management tools, personalised financial products and various credit options available.

The current financial struggles of people across the world could encourage the adoption of apps, just as the Covid-19 pandemic did, but for different reasons.

When Covid-19 hit the world in 2020, the need for people to avoid contact with others drove the adoption of digital banking. With high streets shut down for long periods, the take-up of financial technology exploded as people across all age groups turned to apps to manage their money.

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