Ulster Bank have started to free customer accounts as part of withdrawal – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

Ulster Bank have started to free customer accounts as part of withdrawal

Ulster Bank will begin freezing the first tranche of customer accounts Friday, as part of its departure from the country.

Customers were among the first to receive a six-month notice to close their accounts last April, but have yet to do so.

The development comes as the Central Bank said only 38% of current and deposit accounts at outgoing Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland that were open earlier this year have so far been closed, leaving around 770,000 still open.

This despite the fact that more than 800,000 new accounts were opened in the three main retail banks that remained in the market between January and the end of October.

Ulster Bank is expected to freeze around 3,600 accounts today or in the next few days, with the accounts to be closed 30 days later.

The bank says it believes customers holding these particular accounts have little trust in them or may have accounts elsewhere.

More than 70% of those who received an official account closure notice in April and May have either closed, physically settled or gone dormant, says Ulster Bank.

It says those first instalment customers who are even more confident in their accounts won’t see them closed just yet and will contact them to offer assistance.

The process will be carried out in a careful and controlled manner, it says.

But despite today’s milestone, the latest Central Bank data shows there is still a lot of work to be done before banks close all accounts and can agree to exit the market.

They show that the pace of customer-driven account closures slowed in the second half of last month.

Despite this, there was still a 15% increase in account closure activity compared to the four weeks to the end of September, with 84,494 accounts closed.

In total, 464,998 accounts were closed between the two banks, split roughly evenly between checking and deposit accounts.

768,408 remain open, of which 447,733 checking accounts, of which 341,184 were considered active and 247,116 were considered primary customer accounts.

The account opening rate at the remaining three banks also slowed in October, falling 14% compared to September.

“The continued progress shown in the data we are publishing today is encouraging as we enter the next part of the exercise with the departing banks commencing their process of closing accounts on a phased basis. This account closing exercise is one we have and will continue to scrutinise very closely, as we have scrutinised each phase of the withdrawal, to ensure the clear expectations that we have set are being met. This includes in particular ensuring that no customer account is closed until all and every reasonable measure has been taken to ensure that the customer has been enabled to switch,” said the Central Bank’s Director of Consumer Protection, Colm Kincaid, reported RTE.

But the Labor Party asked the Central Bank to clarify whether Ulster Bank actually met the necessary criteria to allow the closure of active accounts.

The Consumer Protection Code which sets out the threshold that Ulster Bank must meet is very clear,” said finance spokesman Ged Nash, reported RTE.

He added that the Labor Party has always expressed concern about Ulster Bank’s arbitrary deadlines for closure and believes that six months is not long enough to close the bank.

This sentiment was echoed earlier this week by the Financial Services Union, which called on the Central Bank to intervene to ensure no clients are released.

Padraic Kissane, financial adviser and member of the Irish Banking Culture Board, said Ulster Bank reported some progress in closing accounts before exiting the Irish market.

70% of customers who were contacted in April have now closed their accounts and transferred banks.

He said people get a 30-day notice of account closure, but “frozen” means customers won’t be able to access ATMs or other facilities.

But banks are not freezing accounts where there has been welfare activity in the past 30 days, Kissane said.

When the accounts are closed, the money will sit dormant until the customer requests it, he said.

Kissane said it’s important for people to take steps to avoid putting pressure on other banks to take on new customers.

He said that there are people who consider themselves vulnerable and don’t know how to change.

But he said the Irish Banking Culture Board has been assured that processes are in place to help people move.

Tell us your thoughts in the Facebook post and share this with your friends.

Share this story with a friend

Share this story

Tell us what you think on our Facebook page