Now read our business
banking news ... comments and contributions are welcome.
The Forum of Private Business Survey has published new ranking for
the main business banks. Ranking are (with 2002 in brackets
1. AIB (1)
2. Yorkshire (2)
3. Clydesdale (9)
4. HSBC (3)
5. RBS (4)
6. Bank of Scotland (6)
7. NatWest (7)
8. Lloyds TSB (10)
9. Barclays (5)
minutes of the Banking Payments Systems Task Force are available.
July - The
BNP says Barclays is closing its accounts. Barclays said they wouldn't
comment about a customer, but the bank would consider whether there
was a "reputational risk" when it was deciding whether
to open or close an account.
July - a survey
by Standard Life says 52% of small firms have never changed bank.
27% believe they would make more money if they changed more often.
July - an
interesting European angle - The European Commission has sent a
statement of objections to nine French banks and le Groupement Cartes
Bancaires (GCB), which manages the bank card payment system in France,
over 'a secret agreement' to carve up the market for the issue of
bank cards and restrict competition over charges.
June - The
Governor of the Bank of England has criticised slow progress by
banks in speeding up clearance of cheques and electronic payments.
"The bank will actively explore ways in which that performance
can be improved", he said. Good. Mind you, it should already
be working with the OFT's Payment Systems Task Force, so is this
more than rhetoric? The banks have feebly said that payments are
free - yes, but not on business accounts.
March - The
OFT has set up its Banking
Payments Systems Task Force. It is to "identify, consider
and seek to resolve competition, efficiency and incentive issues
relating to payment systems, particularly looking at network effects
of the existing payment mechanisms. Where appropriate, issues affecting
consumers which derive from, or are associated with, features of
payment systems will also be considered".
It has issued a questionnaire
to canvas views from all interested parties on a broad range of
issues relating to payment systems, raised by the Cruickshank and
OFT reports. These issues relate to governance, access, pricing,
innovation and retail and wholesale price transparency. "The
results of this work will inform the decision as to which initial
areas should be addressed by the Task Force." Responses should
arrive by 16 April.
The Guardian has published a piece about Barclays'
payment protection insurance.
The OFT has called on banks to scrap the interest-free float the
benefit from, and pay interest on balances up to the moment when
they are credited to another account using BACS. At the moment they
pay no interest on funds in transit and the OFT has estimated this
is worth £30m a year to them. The OFT said Self-regulation
through the banking codes needs improvement. Customers, not just
the banks, should get some benefit from the float. The bulk
of the benefit will still go to the banks, however, as customers
are paid lower rates on their credit balances than the banks can
earn in the wholesale markets.
It seems ages since Patricia Hewitt first promised
to reduce the number of business schemes sponsored by her department.
At last the government has instituted a review of the SFLGS. It
is being led by Teresa Graham, of the Better Regulation Taskforce.
She says she is not interested in tinkering, but wants to encourage
fresh thinking about the role of a guarantee scheme in the debt
finance market. Any input should reach her by April 13 and the report
is due at the end of June.
Meanwhile, we have been placing SFLGS business, and are always
happy to receive proposals. With our contacts in factoring and leasing,
we can put together an overall package.