News & Views - Savantor

The big cheque out

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Times recently reported that there are plans by the UK government to force banks to provide basic bank accounts to anybody that wants to open one. This is nothing new as in 2003, the Government and the banking industry established the Financial Inclusion Task Force to improve access to banking facilities. Around 8 million adults have basic bank accounts and between 2003 and 2007, the number of adults without access to an account fell from 3.57 million to 1.75 million, according to the British Bankers Association. To legislate to resolve this looks like a sledgehammer to crack a nut as the number of restrictions placed on basic bank accounts (you can put money in, only draw it through an ATM card, no cheque book, no overdraft, no interest), means that the costs to the banks seems to be outweighed by having a little more free money in the coffers so why wouldn’t they do it?

Not allowing cheque books seems an obvious move given the intention to remove these as a payment vehicle and the news that banks are already phasing out cheque guarantee cards. Santander are the latest to let its 5 million card holders know that all card issued after 1 June will not have the cheque guarantee logo on them.

On the subject of cheques we also have heard that the days of credit card cheques being sent out unrequested are coming to an end prompting MBNA to stop issuing them altogether. This pre-empts the Financial Services Bill which is expected to become law in June.

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