The Central Bank has said that the three main banks still need to do more to improve the experience of customers who are moving their accounts from Ulster Bank and KBC.
Both banks are withdrawing from the Irish market, and the Central Bank has published the first in a series of monthly figures aimed at measuring progress on the large-scale movement of accounts.
The regulator’s figures show that, in the first eight months of 2022, almost a quarter of current and deposits accounts held in Ulster Bank and KBC Bank were closed by customers.
The total of almost 293,000 accounts comprised around 140,000 current accounts and 152,000 deposit accounts.
Sharp rise in accounts opened
The Central Bank says, however, that the pace of account closures has picked up in recent weeks.
The figures cover households, as well as small and medium-sized businesses.
Just over 600,000 accounts were opened at the three remaining big banks – AIB, Bank of Ireland, and Permanent TSB – in the first eight months of this year. The regulator says that this is around 46% higher than corresponding figures for these banks in previous years.
Customers opened the new accounts online in 56% of cases, with the remainder opening them in a branch.
The average waiting time for a branch appointment at the end of August was eight working days.
Experience 'not satisfactory'
Colm Kincaid (director of consumer protection at the Central Bank, pictured) described the figures as "positive", adding that it was clear that bank staff were working extremely hard to assist switching customers.
"However, more remains to be done to improve the experience of customers moving their account and, for too many customers, that experience has not been satisfactory," he stated.
"In particular, banks need to continue to increase resources, and improve processes and training in order to equip their staff to meet the challenges this exercise presents," Kincaid said.