The government announced yesterday that the ability to compare current account products online has moved a major step closer, with agreement secured from the largest account providers on the way customers' account information will be provided for use in comparison tools.
Key to the government's long term economic plan is giving Britain's consumers far greater choice in banking services, which is why we have been working with comparison tool providers and current account providers on a new solution to make it easier for consumers to see which current account might be best for them.
The service will be available by the end of the financial year, when customers will be able to download a year's worth of their current account data in single file that can be read by online tools. While the information will be stripped of any details that link it to the individual directly, to make it safer to use, it will include what shops your money has been spent with, as well as how much you have spent.
This opens up all kind of possibilities. For example, if you only ever do your supermarket shop at a particular chain, the comparison site will be able to see this and might highlight that an account offered by that supermarket – perhaps offering reward or loyalty points – could be the best option for you.
This announcement delivers on the commitment made by the six largest current account providers at this year's Budget to give their customers portable current account information in an industry standard format that can be plugged into comparison tools.
This initiative is part of the government's Midata Programme to provide consumers with better access to their personal data so that they can choose better products and services.
Addressing the British Bankers' Association, Competition in Banking conference, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrea Leadsom MP, said:
"This initiative has the potential to make a real difference to customers and competition.
"By helping customers get a much better understanding –for the first time – of how they are spending their money, and which is the best product for them.
"And I am delighted to confirm that the format has now been agreed, and the service will be available to customers by the end of the financial year.
"Current account holders will be able to download a year's worth of their transactions in a single file, which they will then be able to use in online comparison tools."