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Bank switching 'now working'

Rory and Jenson drive Santander to top spot

SantanderThey used to say you were more likely to change your spouse than change your bank account. No more. The number of people switching bank has risen 12% to 1.16 million.

Spanish bank Santander – which used sports stars Rory McIlroy and Jenson Button in its advertising campaign – was the big winner, attracting almost 60,000 new customers. Barclays and the Co-op saw the most leaving to sign up with a rival.

The Payments Council says the figure for last year shows the government’s hopes of encouraging more competition is working.

Legislation was introduced in 2013 allowing customers to switch account within seven working days accompanied by warnings that the banks could face tougher measures if they failed to comply.

The Payments Council, which is responsible for the account-switching service, published data showing how many customers banks gained and lost during the second quarter of last year.

According to the Competition and Markets Authority the big four – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group (including Bank of Scotland) and Royal Bank of Scotland – control about 77% of current accounts. But it was an overseas bank that showed the biggest gain

Santander, which now owns the former Abbey National, Alliance& Leicester and Bradford & Bingley businesses, added 59,922 customers during the period. Halifax, owned by Lloyds Banking Group, was the second-biggest net gainer with 15,125 accounts.

Barclays had a net loss of 22,119 customers during the period and the Co-operative Bank lost 19,103.

The Payments Council said the number of people now aware of switching rose from 59% to 69% and that growing numbers have confidence that the process works.

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