Mobile Bank Account Numbers -Why Not?

Posted on: 15/09/2015

The new Payment Systems Regulator has set up a Strategy Forum, aimed at suggesting payment system innovation in the non-competitive arena.

An obvious innovation which has been consistently blocked is the creation of a bank account numbering system which allows customers to keep the same account number, as and when they choose to move their account from one bank to another. The term " Mobile Bank Account Numbers" has been coined for this potential innovation.

The concept of number mobility was, of course, implemented long ago by the mobile phone companies. For years, you have been able to keep the same number, whichever service provider you choose to use.

The old UK Payments Council didn't even properly discuss this issue. It was said to be " far too costly to implement ". In the light of the near £30 Billion banks have already paid out in PPI compensation, this judgment is hard to fathom, but the Payments Council accepted it without question.

At the time the idea of Mobile Bank Account Numbers was been doused with cold water at the Payments Council, a sop was offered to the government and public. This took the form of improved timelines in relation to moving an account from one bank to another. Today, it can take less than two weeks to achieve this, whereas in the past, it could take months. However, when you move your account, you still are not allowed to keep the same bank account number.

So banking has yet to catch up with the customer service levels afforded by mobile phone operators.

Clearly, this issue needs to be reviewed by the Payment Systems Regulator. It is absolutely non-competitive and quite clearly an innovation of benefit to the UK public. If the Regulator cannot look into this as a matter of urgency, is there any point having one?

It remains to be seen, however, whether the Strategy Forum will even examine this important customer service innovation.

We will watch progress ( if any) with interest.

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