Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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228. To ask the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the widespread difficulties facing bank customers who have to change bank due to the withdrawal of banks (details supplied) from this State; if the 2016 code of conduct of the Central Bank is being adhered to by these banks in facilitating customers to change to new banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17306/22]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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My Department is in regular contact with both KBC and Ulster Bank. In all engagements it is emphasise the need for an orderly withdrawal. Both Ulster Bank and KBC will be providing me with regular updates, in the months ahead, regarding account numbers and any issues consumers are encountering with moving their account.

My Department is also in regular contact with key stakeholders, including the Central Bank of Ireland, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, and the Banking & Payments Federation of Ireland, to ensure consumers are kept informed regarding all their options regarding moving their accounts.

Both the Central Bank and I expect that all retail banks have plans in place to manage the impact of the broader changes and consolidation in the retail banking sector. It is the responsibility of the individual banks to ensure that they are putting their customer first, ensuring fair treatment of customers and that customers understand what the changes mean for them. On 25 June 2021, the Central Bank engaged with all banks on their expectations of how they manage issues and consumer risks during this period of change, and it is actively monitoring compliance with these expectations.

In 2016, the Central Bank issued a Code of Conduct on the Switching of payment accounts with Payment Service Providers (“The Switching Code”). The Switching Code is designed to ensure switching accounts is easy and straightforward for the consumer. The Switching Code sets out the process that all Payment Service Providers (including Banks) that offer payment accounts in Ireland are required to follow when a consumer wants to switch accounts. This includes making a switching pack available to customers, timelines for completing the switching process and the actions to be taken by both the existing and new payment service provider when the customer seeks to initiate the switching process.

All customers that currently have an account with KBC Bank and Ulster Bank will be notified by their respective bank, with sufficient notice, to switch their accounts and how the banks will assist them to do this. However, customers do not have to wait for their banks to contact them and could decide at an earlier stage to move to alternative providers, in advance of any notice period. Where customers are considering switching in advance of the notice period, they should make contact with their current provider before closing their account to ensure they understand any product benefits that may be related to their existing current account.


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