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Brussels, 5 June 2007

Bank accounts: expert group recommends ways to improve customer mobility

The European Commission has published the report of the Expert Group on Customer Mobility in relation to Bank Accounts, which was established in May 2006 to identify obstacles that customers encounter when switching bank accounts at national or EU level or when opening bank accounts cross-border, and to provide the Commission with recommendations on how the identified obstacles could be addressed (see IP/06/619). This report will assist the Commission in shaping its policy decisions in the area of customer mobility in relation to bank accounts. It is also an important contribution to the Commission's current efforts to improve retail financial services for EU consumers, as set out in a recent Green Paper (see IP/07/596). The Commission welcomes comments from all interested stakeholders on the report until 1 September 2007.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "Customer mobility is a key factor in boosting competition in retail financial services markets. I am pleased to see that the Group's report contains a rich pool of ideas on how customer mobility in relation to bank accounts could be improved. The Commission considers the Group's report as a very important contribution in the preparation of its own policy decisions in the area."

The Group consisted of experts having banking industry, consumer and academic background. The experts were selected in a personal capacity. The report summarises the Group's discussions and presents the recommendations of the experts participating in the Group.

Four main obstacles to switching bank accounts were identified: information asymmetry and non-transparency of prices, administrative burden, bundling and tying and closing charges.

As far as opening of bank accounts is concerned, the Group identified legal and regulatory barriers, information barriers, uncertainty about the rules to be applied, commercial decisions by banks and closing charges as causing consumers problems.

The Group came up with 37 recommendations to address all the obstacles identified.

The report also covers a number of issues that the Group considered relevant to the discussions on customer mobility, such as future developments in payments market, consumer behaviour and bank strategies.

In line with Better Regulation principles and as a follow-up to the Group's work, the Commission is opening a public consultation on the Group's report. Stakeholders are invited to comment by 1 September 2007. Comments should also address the impact of the Group's recommendations and suggest any other ways to improve customer mobility in relation to bank accounts. Responses should be sent to:

The Commission will then evaluate what actions should be taken to improve customer mobility in relation to bank accounts.

The report is available at:

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