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Thirty-Three U.K. Lenders Sign Up to Account-Switching Service

Thirty-three U.K. lenders including HSBC Holdings Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc agreed to allow customers to switch their checking accounts between lenders in seven days.

From September, financial institutions will redirect payments and deposits for customers moving their account to another bank, the Payments Council said in a statement today. Customers will be refunded any charges should the process go wrong, according to the body, which is funded by the industry. Moving accounts can take as long as 30 days at present.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is pushing for greater competition in the industry and considering whether to force banks to give up control of the payment system. Britain’s four largest lenders have about 75 percent of the checking account market, the Office of Fair Trading said in January.

“Creating the Current Account Switch Service has involved massive systems changes on both a central and individual institution level,” Adrian Kamellard, chief executive officer of the Payments Council, said in the statement.

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