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FCA Update: Basic Bank Accounts

The FCA has published their findings today (11/02/20) following a review of how 5 of the 9 banks, who provide Basic Bank Accounts (BBAs), give information about them to their customers.

The object was to understand how firms approach granting access to BBAs on the backdrop of the importance of financial inclusion.

The payment Account Regulations 2015 (PARs) set out the requirements for firms who offer BBAs.  As a reminder these are that providers must:

  • offer a BBA to any customer who applies and meets the eligibility criteria;
  • open or refuse to open a BBA no later than 10 days from application; and
  • provide information about the features and fees and conditions of the BBA to customers free of charge.

Whilst the eligibility criteria are relaxed, firms must comply with AML and Financial Crime.

The review brought to light some good and bad practices and highlighted the following areas for improvement:

  • Information received by eligible customers – a consistent approach to the provision of information should be adopted to ensure that all customers get the relevant information;
  • Treatment of a customer showing potential traits of vulnerability – staff should be able to identify vulnerability more consistently; and
  • Applying the bank’s identification and verification policy – all available forms of identification for AML purposes    should be notified to customers (not just passports and utility bills).

The FCA has encouraged all firms to create customer journeys which are inclusive of all customers and their needs.  It has noted that basic bank accounts will remain a key area of focus for the FCA.

 

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Caroline Stevenson