BCR extends SME switching scheme deadline by 6 months

By Oliver Smith on Tuesday 23 June 2020

Digital Banking

Only 34,537 out of a targeted 120,000 businesses have currently switched bank account.

BCR extends SME switching scheme deadline by 6 months
Image source: Robert Bye/Unsplash.

After admitting earlier in the year that “more needs to be done”, Banking Competition Remedies Ltd (BCR) today extended the deadline on its £225m scheme to switch business current accounts away from RBS subsidiary Williams & Glyn. 

The so-called Incentivised Switching Scheme (ISS) was launched in February 2019 to offer payouts for 120,000 business customers of Williams & Glyn to switch to one of a dozen other business banks, including Starling Bank, Metro Bank and Santander. 

Today the BCR extended the 25 August deadline on the project to February 2021 in order to reach its target, of which only 34,537 SMEs have switched so far with a further 6,351 in-progress. 

Nick Perkins, EC solutions programme director at RBS said the bank “will be writing to those customers in the next few weeks to let them know that they are eligible. This allows the scheme to build on the significant progress made so far and gives more customers access to market leading switching incentives.” 

However, due to the terms under which the BCR was established, the group says no further extension to the switching scheme can be granted. 

And while the BCR celebrates that current switching rates are double what they were pre-ISS, the project looks likely to miss its target. 

“The chance now to extend the ISS timeline and give access to a larger number of customers, offers the best opportunity to sustain momentum towards the ambitious targets put in place at the outset of the Scheme in a very different economic environment,” said the BCR’s lead director on ISS, Brendan Peilow. 

As well as the economic uncertainty, AltFi has detailed the issues that SMEs who’ve recently switched bank accounts are facing in accessing government-backed lending schemes. 

Many banks are prioritising existing customers or are currently closed for new SMEs to open accounts.

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