Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Inquiry to Probe Dominance of the Big Four Banks

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Inquiry to Probe Dominance of the Big Four Banks

Article excerpt

Byline: FINANCE VICKY SHAW business@ncjmedia.co.uk

AMAJOR investigation into the dominance of Britain's big four banks over the accounts of consumers and small businesses is expected to be announced today.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will confirm whether it has decided to press ahead with an inquiry into personal current accounts and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) banking.

It has previously said that it is minded to launch a full-scale investigation, but it has given the "big four" - Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) - the opportunity to come up with their own solutions.

Previous studies by the CMA have found that essential parts of the retail banking sector "lack effective competition and do not meet the needs of personal consumers or SMEs".

The CMA has been consulting on a provisional decision that there should be an in-depth investigation into the current account market, which generates revenues of more than PS8bn, and SME banking, including the more than PS2bn business current account market and business loans.

Some 65m active personal current accounts exist in the UK, while there are more than 3.5m business current accounts.

The big four banks collectively supply more than three-quarters (77%) of the personal current account market in the UK, and the CMA has previously found that despite moves to make it easier to switch banks, the number of people who actually do so remains low. …

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