Bank customers will soon be able to download their current account data and compare against other providers using online tools, following a public and private sector agreement.
Six major banks -- Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Nationwide -- will allow access to a year's worth of account data in a single file, delivered in an industry standard format.
Comparison sites are currently developing online tools to support the service, which will be available from the end of the year.
It is hoped that the ability to access and compare to current account data could provide a range of benefits for customers. For example, it might show that a person who shops regularly at a supermarket would benefit from a current account offered by the retailer, which may offer reward or loyalty points. This could benefit the likes of Tesco Bank, which recently launched a current account, and Sainsbury's Bank, which is believed to be considering such a move.
"This initiative has the potential to make a real difference to customers and competition by helping customers get a much better understanding - for the first time - of how they are spending their money, and which is the best product for them," said Andrea Leadsom MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, addressing the British Bankers' Association yesterday.
The announcement is part of the Midata initiative, launched in 2011 to encourage private sector businesses to open up customer data, and comes as the government aims to encourage competition in the banking sector.
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