The abolition of free banking would not benefit customers, according to around three-quarters of respondents to a CISI survey The survey was carried out after Barclays Chief Executive Antony Jenkins suggested that the ending of free banking would be a “step forward” for customers.
Of those who opposed Mr Jenkins’ view, 52% strongly disagreed and 22% tended to disagree.
Some 10% agreed with him strongly and 16% tended to think he was right. More than 760 people took part in the survey. Comments made by respondents highlighted a widespread feeling that it would be unfair to make customers, and in particular poorer people, pay for essential banking services.
“Basic banking should be available to everyone – including fees would restrict access to many,” said one contributor.
Many argued that the scrapping of free banking could not be justified. “Funds in current accounts support every bank’s activities but – generally – pay no interest”, said a further respondent.
Another comment pointed to Australia as an example of the negative knock-on effects that customers could face from being made to pay to hold current accounts. “The banks went on to make record profits and this led to further charges such as fees to see a teller clerk in the branch and to withdraw money from other banks’ cash machines, a cap on the number of money withdrawals via cash machines and if exceeded, a fee levied to then withdraw your own money.”
There was also concern that the move would fuel the black economy, with more traders insisting on cash in hand payments.
Those in support of ending free banking commonly cited that it would increase transparency for the customer, reducing the need for banks to charge “hidden fees”. A further argument was that increased competition between banks would result which “could prove valuable to customers”.
One respondent said: “I applaud Mr Jenkins’ comments. I am a strong believer in paying for banking services which results in better services for customers.