Only a quarter of accounts at KBC and Ulster Bank have been closed so far this year

ONLY a quarter of accounts at KBC Bank and Ulster Bank have been closed so far this year.

This despite the fact that the two banks keep telling their customers that they are closing and asking them to switch to other account providers.

The two banks are set to withdraw from that country next year.

The central bank said 600,311 accounts were opened at the three remaining main banks in the first eight months of the year.

This includes both current and deposit accounts.

And the regulator warned that the experience of many people trying to switch has not been satisfactory.

In a new dataset on account openings and closures, the central bank said a total of 292,996 customer accounts at Ulster Bank and KBC Bank were closed in the year to the end of August.

Of these, 140,573 were checking accounts and 152,423 were deposit accounts.

Overall, by August 24% of the current and deposit accounts open at Ulster Bank and KBC Bank at the start of the year had been closed.

The data also shows that the pace of account closures has accelerated in recent weeks.

Around 600,311 accounts were opened at the three remaining main banks in the first eight months of the year.

The majority of these were checking accounts with 434,166.

This is around 46% more than the number of accounts opened by this banking group in the first eight months of previous years.

The number of active credit and debit cards held by customers of the exiting banks has fallen by 21 percent since the beginning of 2021.

Of the total new accounts opened in the first eight months of 2022, more than half were opened online.

The rest opened in a branch.

The average waiting time for a branch appointment was eight working days.

The central bank’s consumer protection director, Colm Kincaid, said it was positive to see that so many Ulster Bank and KBC customers have taken the steps to move their accounts.

But he warned banks that for those who have yet to switch, all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure those customers are enabled to switch.

And he added: “More needs to be done to improve the experience of customers who move their accounts, and for too many customers that experience has not been satisfactory.”

He said banks need to continue to ramp up their resources and improve processes and training to equip their staff for the challenges this exercise poses.

“We will continue to work closely with all banks as part of our supervisory work over the coming weeks and months to ensure clients are adequately supported.”

Meanwhile, KBC said it will permanently close its hubs next March 10.

The transfer of customer products to Bank of Ireland is expected to take place early next year and all KBC hubs will remain open until then.

But KBC hubs in Galway, Limerick, Lapps Quay Cork, Wilton Shopping Center Cork, Waterford, Maynooth, Main Street Swords, Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, College Green Dublin, Baggot Street Dublin and Stillorgan will be permanently closed on March 10.

The bank said that KBC’s contact center is the preferred choice for customers, as 90 per cent of all customer service inquiries are handled through the contact centre.

97 percent of active KBC current account customers are digitally activated.

KBC said it has significantly increased staff levels to support customers during this period of change. For example, the number of service contact center staff has doubled since the Bank of Ireland agreement was announced. Only a quarter of accounts at KBC and Ulster Bank have been closed so far this year

Fry Electronics Team

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