More than 60,000 of primary current accounts with Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland remained open at the end of last month even after the vast majority of customers of the two exiting banks moved their business to other providers.
The Central Bank of Ireland said on Friday that 85 per cent of all household and business current accounts that were open at the beginning of last year were either closed or inactive at the end of March.
Some 79,400 deposit accounts were still open, down 86 per cent from early 2022, according to the data.
However, there has been a sharp drop-off in the level of customers closing accounts and moving their daily banking since a rush of activity in February, even as Ulster Bank prepares to close its remaining branches next Friday. KBC Bank Ireland closed most of its hubs last month, though its Grand Canal Dublin location will remain open until the end of August.
“A total of 86,298 current and deposit accounts were closed in Ulster Bank and KBC Bank in the four weeks to end-March. This represented a reduction of 57 per cent when compared with corresponding four-week period to end-February 4th, when there was a significant acceleration in bank initiated closures,” the regulator said.
“This brings the total number of accounts closed since the beginning of 2022 at these two banks to 986,023. Of these, 513,785 were current accounts, while the remaining 472,238 were deposit accounts.”
In total 1,156,638 current and deposit accounts were opened across the three remaining retail banks – AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB (PTSB) – since the beginning of 2022, including business-as-usual openings.
A spokesman for Ulster Bank declined to give updated figures for account closures beyond repeating comments from February when 91 per cent of personal accounts had either been closed or customers were relying on them for five or fewer transactions a month.
“The vast majority of customers with current and deposit accounts have passed their six months’ notice,” he said, adding that the bank was freezing accounts after they pass the notice period, with the exception of so-called vulnerable customers and those in receipt of a payment from the Department of Social Protection.
“After next Friday, April 21st, a range of customer services and supports will continue to be available through telephone and online channels, to help remaining customers move and close their accounts,” he said.
A spokeswoman for KBC Bank Ireland said it estimates that customers behind 15,100 current accounts still need to move to a new provider, down 70 per cent from May 2022, just before it started issuing notice letters to customers.
More than 78,000 current accounts have been closed or are now blocked, she said. This includes those with little or no activity or which were not customers’ main accounts at the outset of the process.
“This process is ongoing and will continue in the coming months as more notice periods begin to expire, continuing into the third quarter of 2023,” she said.
“In addition to six months’ notice of closure, we are also monitoring current accounts to ensure that those with active incoming payments, direct debits, standing orders, social welfare payments or overdrafts are provided with additional time if necessary.”