Action before reference
See link to the Northern Ireland banking
that led to this reference.
Reasons for reference
Date of reference: 26 May 2005
The OFT has referred the Northern Ireland banking to the Competition
Commission (CC) for investigation. There are features of the personal
current account market in Northern Ireland which the OFT suspects
restrict competition, and which warrant further investigation by the CC.
There is a high level of concentration in the market and the OFT found
evidence of behaviour among the four largest banks leading to, or
demonstrating, weak competition between them. For example:
- they impose a number of charges when customers are in credit and
overdrawn which are not found in the rest of the UK (and there are no
offsetting advantages such as higher interest payments on positive
- they do not actively compete on price and there is evidence of
parallel pricing behaviour among them, and of possible price
leadership and price signalling they do not actively compete for
customers switching accounts.
In addition there appear to be low levels of switching by customers,
both between rival banks and to alternative accounts within the same
Information on the Competition Commission’s personal current account banking services in Northern Ireland market investigation is on GOV.UK.