British Banks About to Get More Consumer Friendly

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


One of the things that keeps people from switching banks is that it’s a pain in the ass. In Britain, they decided to do something about that:

Under orders from the U.K. government to remove barriers to competition, large and small lenders alike have spent two years and a total of about £750 million ($1.2 billion) preparing to make it possible for checking-account customers to switch banks within seven business days. Starting Monday, the banks will have to handle the process of moving accounts and making sure that automatic bill payments and money transfers are shifted seamlessly to the customer’s new bank

The experiment is being closely watched not just in Britain but also by industry officials and policy makers in the U.S., where banks aren’t obligated to assist customers who want to defect to a rival institution and the switching process can drag on for more than a month. Industry consultants said the British project could become a template for banks in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Uh huh. Sure it could. I’m sure that a year from now the finance lobby will have prepared a dozen white papers explaining what a disaster this has turned out to be for British customers, and how adopting it in the U.S. would raise costs for everyone and all but destroy consumer banking. And that will be that. After all, if banks say something would be bad for consumers, who could doubt them?

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate