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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C

Ulster Bank to begin freezing current and deposit accounts from today

The bank announced its withdrawal from the Irish market in February.

ULSTER BANK IS to begin freezing current and deposit accounts from today. 

In a statement, the bank said that the first customers who received their six-month notice in April will begin to see their current and deposit accounts frozen on or after today, with the accounts to close 30 days later.

The bank announced its withdrawal from the Irish market in February.

It said it will begin with customers who it believes have low reliance on their accounts or may have accounts elsewhere.

It said it is commencing this process “in a careful and controlled way”.

“Over 70% of Ulster Bank personal current account customers who received their first formal notification in April and May, have either closed, materially wound down the level of activity in their current account or left it inactive. This trend is increasing every day,” the statement continued. 

The bank said it will also reach out to customers who are still highly reliant on their accounts to offer them further support, adding that their accounts will not be frozen at this time. 

Appearing before the Oireachtas Finance Committee last month, the bank’s CEO Jane Howard outlined this process. 

“If a customer is still reliant on their account after their six months’ notice is over, we will try to make contact with them again to ensure they have all the requirements they need to complete their move to a new bank or a new service provider,” Howard said.

“We will not freeze or close their accounts at this time but it’s essential that these customers continue the process of moving to another service provider.”

She said if the bank freezes an account that a customer is still reliant on, it can temporarily reverse the freeze and get the account for a short time.

Higher reliance accounts include personal or commercial current account customers with six or more transactions in the last 30 days, as well as customers who have received a social protection payment in the last 30 days.

They also include personal current or deposit account customers in receipt of an inbound payment of €125 or more in the last 30 days, as this could be their wages, as well as commercial current accounts with a reliance on an overdraft and an account turnover of more than €1,000 in the last 30 days.

“This precautionary, careful and controlled approach of freezing an account 30 days before closure means that where a customer needs more support, which may or may not mean more time, we can and are keen to provide that – they just need to let us know what they need,” the bank said.

“This phased approach to overall closure of accounts is managed to maintain an orderly process for customers, the industry and other key stakeholders.”

Ulster Bank also confirmed that 25 branches will close on either 6 or 13 January. They will reopen shortly after as a Permanent TSB branch. 

Screenshot (145) Ulster Bank Ulster Bank

It said that if a customer’s local branch is becoming a Permanent TSB branch and their mortgage is transferring to Permanent TSB, their current and deposit accounts are not transferring, and action must be taken to choose a new provider.

Account openings and closures

Meanwhile, new data on bank account migration has found that 38% of the current and deposit accounts that were open at the beginning of the year in Ulster Bank and KBC Bank had been closed by the end of last month. 

The data, published today by the Central Bank of Ireland, found that Ulster Bank and KBC customers closed a total of 84,494 current and deposit accounts in October.

The pace of customer-led account closures slowed in the second half of last month, but still saw an increase of 15% compared to the four weeks to the end of September.

This brings the total number of accounts closed by customers in the ten months to October to 464,998. Of these, 234,098 were current accounts and 230,900 were deposit accounts.

Of the 447,733 current accounts that remain open, 341,184 were deemed by the exiting banks to be active accounts, and 247,116 were deemed as customers’ primary account.

The data also found that 800,325 accounts were opened in the three main remaining banks in the first ten months of the year.

This is around double the number of openings in an average ten month period in the last three years.

Of those, 58% were opened online, while the remainder were opened in a branch. The average waiting time for a branch appointment was six and a half working days at end-October. This has fallen from an average of nearly ten days in early August.

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