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Under half of polled customers have moved KBC and Ulster Bank accounts ahead of closures

Ulster Bank and KBC are leaving the Irish market.

MANY PEOPLE AFFECTED by Ulster Bank and KBC’s impending closures have yet to open a new current account, according to the consumer watchdog.

New research by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has indicated that the majority (81%) of the two banks’ current account customers plan to switch to a new current account provider but less than half (44%) have already opened one.

Both Ulster Bank and KBC, which are withdrawing from the Irish market, started writing to customers in the last few months to give them six months’ notice to close current and deposit accounts.

IPSOS MRBI conducted consumer research on behalf of the CCPC in June of a nationally representative sample of 201 of the banks’ customers.

The survey found that 47% of Ulster Bank respondents have opened a new current account but only 27% of KBC’s.

Overall, 20% have decided on a new provider but are yet to open an account, 15% had started to compare providers but not chosen one yet and 20% had taken no action.

“Our research found that 44% of KBC and Ulster Bank customers who intend to switch current accounts have already opened a new account and begun the process of switching,” CCPC Commission Member Brian McHugh said.

“This level of activity is positive but we strongly encourage consumers who haven’t started to switch to use our current account comparison tool at to see what options are available to them,” he said.

“We are very aware that switching a current account can be challenging for consumers, particularly those on low incomes.

“Consumers need to be very proactive to ensure that all Direct Debits are moved over to their new account to ensure key payments on bills and loans go through without disruption.”

The CCPC is encouraging people to access “impartial switching information, including step-by-step guides, current account comparison tools and supports” on its website.

29% of respondents said they would consider switching to online-only banking to replace their main current accounts – 52% of KBC customers compared to 24% of AIB’s.

Among people who have already started or completed the process of switching, the most common barrier was transferring over direct debits (13%).

That was followed by a lack of suitable alternatives (8%), difficulties accessing in-person support (7%), too many forms and documentation required (7%), challenges in switching multiple financial products to a new provider (7%), and the amount of time and effort it took (7%).

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