KBC Bank Ireland extends current account closure notice

KBC Bank Ireland said it has decided to extend the notice period for closing current accounts from 90 days to six months.

The move brings it into line with Ulster Bank, which gives customers six months to switch their accounts, and comes days after the regulator told banks they must do more to ensure switching customers are catered for.

KBC said it will start sending out the first batch of account closure notification letters in June and these customers will have six months to close their accounts.

Letters to clients will be issued on a rolling basis over the course of the rest of this year and into early 2023, the bank added.

KBC said it will provide reminders to customers during this period through a combination of letters, emails and SMS messages.

“The bank’s intention is that the closure of all accounts be managed carefully and efficiently keeping customers informed at all times,” he said.

KBC Bank Ireland said it understands the crucial importance of a current account in the daily financial lives of its customers.

“We understand that changing banks involves a lot of time and effort on the part of customers and it is our intention to support them during this process,” he added.

He also said that he was fully aware of the apprehension around the volume of clients who will seek to open new checking accounts and the challenge presented by the market.

“It is our determination to fulfill our responsibilities and minimize the inconvenience caused to our customers as much as possible,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Central Bank told lenders here they must do more to ensure customers of Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland are taken care of when the two banks leave the country.

Around 900,000 retail accounts are expected to move over the next year by customers of the two banks.

However, there is growing concern that the sector is not sufficiently prepared to deal with the large movement of clients, amid evidence of long waiting times for branch appointments and to access call centers.

KBC Bank has about 130,000 checking accounts that are active or have a balance and estimates that 52,000 of these customers are expected to need to open a new account or switch to a new provider.

97% of active KBC checking customers bank primarily digitally with KBC through their online banking or mobile app.

The Belgian bank announced last year that it was leaving the Irish market.

Brian Hayes, CEO of the Irish Banking and Payments Federation, welcomed today’s announcement from KBC Bank Ireland.

“They are giving their customers more time and indeed that will help the remaining banks to try to find new homes for these accounts,” Hayes told Morning Ireland.

He said that the Central Bank has recognized the logistical challenge that lies ahead when it comes to changing accounts.

“They have recognized that a lot of work is being done on the outgoing and remaining banks,” he said.

“I have said from the beginning that this will be a marathon, not a sprint, we are going to get there,” he added.

In the first three months of this year, Hayes said AIB, Bank of Ireland and PTSB have opened more than 105,000 new accounts.

That’s before the banks hire additional staff, he said.

“We’re going to see a significant increase in that number going forward. But we need help from everyone here, and especially from the direct debit originators section of the marketplace,” he said.

“Behind half a million checking accounts there are seven million transactions that customers make in direct debts and standing orders,” he said.

Hayes said that the Central Bank has recognized that this is a problem that needs to be addressed.

“I would call on other regulators to do the same,” he added.

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