Fairbanking Foundation launches fair banking challenge
The Fairbanking Foundation has launched a challenge intended to encourage banks to make their products more useful and accessible to consumers. The Fairbanking Mark Challenge rewards banks if they can achieve an additional 15 Fairbanking Mark certifications by October 2015.
The challenge, dubbed ’15 by 2015’, assesses five product types: regular savings products, current accounts with and without overdraft, credit cards, and personal loans. The ratings score banking products against how well they help the customer to manage their money. The Fairbanking Mark is also intended as a way of recognising a product that has been more thoroughly tested, including independent research among consumers designed to check whether it made a positive difference to users.
“The aim of this campaign is to achieve a critical mass of certified products and to help towards building greater customer awareness of Fairbanking Marks and what they mean to people taking out these products,” said Antony Elliott, chief executive of the Fairbanking Foundation, a charity. “The Foundation is keen to involve all sizes and types of provider from major banks to smaller building societies, credit unions and peer-to-peer lenders. All are invited to participate.”
The Fairbanking Foundation was set up in 2008 to encourage financial well-being for consumers. This year’s event will culminate in a ceremony in October 2015 at the Guildhall in London, which will celebrate both the customers that benefited from the certified products and the efforts of providers to improve their products to achieve certification.
“The ‘15 by 2015’ Challenge is a unique opportunity for the banking sector to prove to the public that it is changing its culture for the better, by delivering clear, measurable and decisive improvement to its products, formally and independently tested as being in the interests of its customers,” said Elliott. “Promises of change are easy to make, and it is easy to spend money on advertising, but the real proof is in what is actually done for the customer by the products they are offered. This Challenge will put that reality in a bright spotlight for all to see.”
Earlier this month, the BBA called on the Bank of England to protect challenger banks and to do more to bolster competition between the UK’s retail banking brands. The organisation suggested that changes could be made to the way payments, capital, access to funding and proportionality of regulation are handled to open up more opportunities for healthy competition. Meanwhile the launch of the UK Payments Council’s Current Account Switching Service in September last year was also intended to promote competition by making it easier for consumers to switch from one bank to another. But the Fairbanking Foundation was keen to emphasise that it was not just the big banks that needed to play a role.
“As in our work to date, we are very keen to involve smaller and newer providers such as credit unions, smaller building societies and new peer-to-peer lenders in the Challenge as these organisations can be some of the most innovative and customer-focused, despite their current lack of size,” said Elliott. “Their participation is a key ingredient for the success of this initiative.”