Britain's biggest banks could provide current account data in a universal format to help customers check they have the best deal under a Government drive to make switching easier.
Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander have all signed up to the agreement with the Treasury and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It is the first time data will be produced in a simple, standardised form that can be used in comparison sites and is set to allow consumers to make easy comparisons of their accounts - including fees, charges and benefits. The move was welcomed by consumer group Which? and moneysavingexpert.com, which has committed to developing a comparison tool for consumers to check they are getting the best deal. It comes as part of the Government’s wider MiData programme and builds on the initiative to make switching quicker and easier, as well as promoting greater competition in high street banking after the financial crisis reduced the number of major players in the market. A new industry guarantee was launched last September to help shake up competition and boost consumer confidence in switching, which cut the length of time it takes to switch accounts to seven working days and allowed incoming and outgoing payments to be automatically swapped over to the new account.
Chancellor George Osborne said: “I am determined to build a banking system that works for customers. Key to that is making sure that they can make informed decisions. MiData, combined with seven day account switching, means that the Government is increasing competition in high street banking and arming customers with the weapons they need to hold banks to account.’’