Business banking customers will find it easier to switch their current account in the near future thanks to a new service to be implemented by the Payments Council Board (PCB).The PCB announced last week (September 15th) its decision to introduce a raft of changes to this area of both the personal and business account market in order to improve the options available to consumers.As of September 2013, people should be able to change their current account provider from one company to another entirely within a period of seven working days, including all existing debit and card commitments.These alterations have been designed with the Independent Commission on Banking’s report in mind, which last week (September 12th) made numerous suggestions as to how the banking sector could be enhanced following the recession.Gary Hocking, acting chief executive of the PCB, observed: “We are working to ensure that customers start to see visible and positive changes by the end of 2012.”Free access to bank accounts may be removed from the UK’s financial system sooner rather than later following the publication of reform proposals, an expert believes.The majority of consumers have been able to deal with personal finance options such as their current account or ISA without incurring any fees in the past as banks and building societies have made most of their products charge-free.However, according to Keith Churchouse, director of Keith Churchouse Financial Planning, this may all be about to change in the near future as financiers react to the Independent Commission on Banking’s (ICB) report.Earlier this week (September 12th), the ICB – a body set up by the government last year and headed by Sir John Vickers – put forward a raft of potential alterations to the country’s banking arena that have been accepted be chancellor George Osborne.These measures have been specifically designed to help prevent issues that arose throughout the global economic downturn from occurring again.For instance, under the new rules, lenders will have to ringfence their retail operations – and the money of their customers – from any external investment activity in order to disallow the possibility of consumer funds being used for bailouts.In addition, companies are expected to make it simpler for individuals to switch their bank account and Mr Churchouse feels this could result in them either leaving the UK market or increasing the price of their services.The expert explained that the cost of this change in regulation is estimated to be around £1 billion, so the “only way” this will be viable for many firms is to “introduce charges”.”I can certainly see the end of free banking coming along very quickly indeed,” he added.Mr Churchouse went on to note that this makes it even more important for people to choose a bank account that is well suited to their needs.
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