Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Finance
154. To ask the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that the level of consumer switching in financial services indicates that consumers are taking advantage of opportunities to get better value; and if he plans changes in the standards of consumer advice, consumer information and consumer protection in the area in order to achieve better outcomes for consumers. [62248/21]
I would encourage all consumers to shop around for financial products and services and to compare the benefits of the different products available. I would draw the Deputy’s attention to the work of Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in this regard. The CCPC is the statutory body responsible for promoting compliance with, and enforcing, competition and consumer protection law in Ireland. It provides a number of very useful online comparison tools for various financial products on its consumer website to help consumers manage their money.
The Central Bank has also conducted research and brought forward regulation in recent years to ensure lenders are not putting impediments in place to prevent switching.
In 2016 the Central Bank of Ireland issued a Code of Conduct on the Switching of Payment Accounts with Payment Service Providers (the Switching Code). All banks, payment institutions and e-money institutions that offer payment accounts in Ireland must comply with the Code. The Switching Code is designed to ensure switching accounts is easy straightforward for the consumer.
The Central Bank continues to analyse key trends in relation to switching. In 2019, it released a Consumer Protection Bulletin which analyses the level of current account switching using data gathered from credit institutions and provides a high-level overview of the number and value of current accounts held by personal consumers, the number of consumers using the Switching Code and the number of consumer complaints received by firms in relation to current accounts.
Separately, in relation to mortgage switching the Central Bank produced an Addendum to its Consumer Protection Code in relation to mortgage switching in June 2018, following a public consultation process.
My Department, for its part, has also been doing considerable work to encourage consumer switching. Following on from the successful delivery of two advertising campaigns which promoted awareness on the benefits of switching, the Department of Finance is now working on the third phase of the Switch your bank campaign. This phase seeks to identify and develop tools which will better enable consumers to complete their switches and the Economic and Social Research Institute’s (ESRI) Behavioural Research Unit has been contracted to carry out an experimental research project that will focus on the behavioural aspects of switching.
The campaign will continue to be supported by a dedicated website, www.switchyourbank.ie/ which provides a single source where consumers can access useful facts about switching, including a straightforward step by step guide, links to Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) comparison tools and helpful information to support their decision-making.