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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# banking switch
Central Bank says more needs to be done to help customers as banks exit Irish market
The exit of KBC and Ulster Bank will whittle Ireland’s number of retail banks from five down to just three.

IRELAND’S RETAIL BANKS need to do more to help customers as Ulster Bank and KBC exit the Irish market, the Central Bank has said.

The banking regulator met with the CEOs of Ireland’s retail banks today to discuss the large-scale migration of customer bank accounts due to the two banks leaving.

The exit of Ulster and KBC will whittle Ireland’s number of retail banks from five down to just three – Bank of Ireland, AIB and Permanent TSB.

The Central Bank said it met with the five CEOs and the Banking and Payments Federation – which represents the sector – to ensure that customers’ needs and expectations are met as they transfer from the exiting banks. 

It said the five banks need to do more across a number of areas including planning and communication.

“It is clear that a lot of work is being done. But we must also accept that the customers affected by these issues did not ask to be in this situation,” the Central Bank’s Director General of Financial Conduct, Derville Rowland, said after the meeting.

“They have rights which must be protected and expectations built up through their relationships and interactions with the banking system that must continue to be met as this exercise proceeds.”

Rowland said those attending the meeting had agreed that more work needs to be done regarding planning, customer focused arrangements, proactive communication and system wide engagement.

“The Irish banking system faces a challenge in ensuring this migration of bank accounts goes well. But it is a challenge that must be met so that the banking system delivers for its customers,” Rowland concluded.

With two banks leaving the Irish market, traditional banking options for hundreds of thousands of customers are dwindling.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Independent TD Michael Collins said many KBC and Ulster Bank customers are finding it difficult to find alternative banking arrangements in the six-month notice period given by the two banks.

“This dictate from both banks demonstrates their shabby treatment of existing customers, many of whom are finding it extremely difficult to obtain replacement banking services,” the Cork South-West representative said.

“For example, many existing KBC and Ulster Bank customers are informing us about extreme difficulties in making in-person appointments with either bank, due to staff shortages or limited appointment availability,” Collins added.

In February the Central Bank criticised Irish retail banks over their customer support phone lines and called for improvements to be made. 

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