Co-op big 
loser in tussle for accounts

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The Co-operative Bank is among the biggest “losers” so far in the battle to win new customers who are using a current account switching service while Santander, Halifax and Nationwide have seen strong gains, new figures reveal.

The Payments Council published figures which throw light on how many current account customers have flocked to particular banks or building societies as well as the volume that have left since a new service to make it easier to ditch an existing provider and opt for a new one was launched.

The figures relate to the last three months of 2013 and cover only people who used the current account switch service, which started last September and automatically shifts outgoing and incoming payments over to the new account while closing the old account.

This means that people who chose to move their payments themselves and keep their old account open, and were therefore not covered by the service, are not part of the data.

Among those customers who did use the switching service, the Co-op, including its internet bank brand Smile, saw a net loss of around 15,000 customers in the final quarter of last year.

Lloyds Bank and TSB combined made a net loss of around 20,000 customers over the period while NatWest, which has endured a string of high-profile technical glitches, shed around 14,000 customers using the switching service.

NatWest’s sister bank RBS made a net loss of over 7,000 customers using the service, while Barclays made a net loss of just over 13,000 customers. For HSBC and its brands the net loss was around 10,000.

Santander, which has been praised for its innovative 123 current account, made an overall gain of 30,000 customers and Halifax, which offers £100 to switch, has piled on over 46,000 extra. Nationwide Building Society, which pays five per cent interest on current accounts, has also seen a net gain of 12,000 people.

The Co-op, which has suffered financial turmoil as well as the drugs scandal involving former chairman Paul Flowers, from Bradford, said it was “unsurprising” its woes have had an impact.

The Co-op said in a statement: “We are extremely grateful for our customers’ loyalty through what has been a very difficult period.

“However, given the issues the Bank has had to face in the last 12 months it is unsurprising that this has impacted how some customers have felt about banking with us.”