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11th June 2019
FCA begins biggest shake-up of the overdraft market for a generation
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is introducing reforms to fix a dysfunctional overdraft market. These changes will make overdrafts simpler, fairer, and easier to manage and will protect the millions of consumers that use overdrafts, particularly more vulnerable consumers. The changes represent the biggest overhaul to the overdraft market for a generation.
In 2017, firms made over £2.4bn from overdrafts alone, with around 30 per cent from unarranged overdrafts. More than 50 per cent of banks’ unarranged overdraft fees came from just 1.5 per cent of customers in 2016. People living in deprived areas are more likely to be impacted by these fees. In some cases, unarranged overdraft fees can be more than ten times as high as fees for payday loans.
The FCA has announced that it is:
• Stopping banks and building societies from charging higher prices for unarranged overdrafts than for arranged overdrafts.
• Banning fixed fees for borrowing through an overdraft – calling an end to fixed daily or monthly charges, and fees for having an overdraft facility.
• Requiring banks and building societies to price overdrafts by a simple annual interest rate.
• Requiring banks and building societies to advertise arranged overdraft prices with an APR to help customers compare them against other products.
• Issuing new guidance to reiterate that ‘refused payment’ fees should reasonably correspond to the costs of refusing payments.
• Requiring banks and building societies to do more to identify customers who are showing signs of financial strain or are in financial difficulty, and develop and implement a strategy to reduce repeat overdraft use.
Extensive FCA research with consumers showed that they also wanted to see the cost of borrowing set out in pounds and pence alongside an APR and interest rate; UK Finance have agreed to implement this alongside the FCA’s remedies.
Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority said: “The overdraft market is dysfunctional, causing significant consumer harm. Vulnerable consumers are disproportionately hit by excessive charges for unarranged overdrafts, which are often ten times as high as fees for payday loans.
"Consumers cannot meaningfully compare or work out the cost of borrowing as a result of complex and opaque charges that are both a result of and driver of poor competition. Our radical package of remedies will make overdrafts fairer, simpler and easier to manage. We are simplifying and standardising the way banks charge for overdrafts.
"Following our changes we expect the typical cost of borrowing £100 through an unarranged overdraft to drop from £5 a day to less than 20 pence a day. The decisive action we are taking will give greater protections to millions of people who use an overdraft, particularly the most vulnerable.”
The new rules will be in force by 6 April, 2020, apart from the guidance on ‘refused payment’ fees, which will take effect immediately, and the repeat use remedies, which will come into force on 18 December, 2019.