Will portable account numbers boost small business bank switching?

According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) more small businesses would switch their bank account if they could take their current account number with them.

The article – How to find the right business bank account – explains how small businesses can benefit from switching their bank account. But few do.

The FCA began a review of the current account switch service (CASS) in September 2014. They found that it works well for those using the service. Most switches are completed within seven days without any problems.

What the review found though is that few consumers are aware of the service or have confidence in it.

Director of strategy and competition at the FCA Christopher Woolard said: “If we want to encourage consumers to switch their bank accounts then it is important that the industry makes it as easy as possible for them to do so.”

One of the measures suggested by the FCA to encourage more people to use the service is for current account numbers to be portable. The FCA said being able to move current account numbers from one bank to another would enable consumers to switch banks without changing their account details.

Keeping the same bank account details would increase consumer confidence in the switching process. It would also increase the number of small business customers choosing to switch.

Porting account numbers is possible but the different technical solutions vary in complexity and cost. It’s already possible to port mobile phone numbers. Porting current account numbers would work in a similar way.

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) will analyse the FCA’s evidence for porting account numbers. It will also consider other ideas for increasing the number of small businesses switching bank accounts.

One suggestion to boost the number of small businesses switching is to reduce the time taken to switch from seven days to five. But the FCA found consumers were more worried about the switch going through smoothly and on a particular date than how long it took.

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