Consumers will soon be given a clear idea of how the services offered by banks and building societies differ, if new plans from the Financial Conduct Authority to make it easier to compare current accounts are given the go-ahead.

The proposals from the regulator, outlined in a new consultation paper, would require banks to publish quarterly data on their services from August 2018.

The move is part of wider plans to improve current account competition first announced last year, in response to recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after its investigation into retail banking.

See our Best Bank Accounts guide for the top-pick accounts and full info on how to switch.

What would banks have to publish?

Under the new plans, any UK financial institution with more than 70,000 personal current accounts or 15,000 business current accounts would have to publish information showing:

  • How long it takes to open an account and to have features of the account working, including overdraft facilities.
  • How long it takes to replace a lost, stolen or stopped debit card.
  • How long it takes to give someone access to a personal current account under a Power of Attorney.
  • How and when customers can carry out various transactions, including making payments or cancelling a cheque, and whether 24-hour help is available.
  • The number and type of major operational or security incidents.

The consultation closes on Monday 25 September, with the outcome likely to be announced before the end of the year.

What does the regulator say?

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the Financial Conduct Authority, said: "Customers tell us they think 'all banks are the same' and so they are discouraged from looking for current accounts offering better performance.

"We know from our consumer research and the CMA's report that consumers and small businesses are really interested to know about the service their bank or building society offers compared to other firms. 

"These proposals represent a step forward, making it easier for consumers to judge whether their bank is offering good service and for firms to see if they are competing effectively against other providers."