Indian central banker floats account number portability

A senior Indian central banker says that the industry should investigate the introduction of account number portability, making it easier for customers to switch providers.

In a speech, Reserve Bank of India deputy governor Shri SS Mundra says that the country is well placed to roll out a system that would let people keep their account number when they moved bank.

Such a service would need a shared payment system, regulated independently, where all account number and payment instructions are warehoused, as well as a unique customer ID system and a central payment system.

But India already has its Aadhaa ID programme and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), giving it the basis from which account portability could be built in a short space of time, argues Mundra.

“Why can’t we be a global first in this? Imagine how this can empower a customer and give an entirely new dimension to the competition, ensuring best of the breed customer service and fair pricing,” says the deputy governor.

However, the speech gives no indication that this is something that the RBI plans to enforce, merely calling on the industry to “commence a serious discussion”.

Full account number portability has been on the agenda in the UK for several years. In 2013 the country introduced a system designed to make it easier and quicker for Brits to switch their current account but it has proved a flop, with fewer consumers transferring their business in 2015 compared to the previous year.

This has led politicians and regulators to call for full portability, with the FCA floating two potential models: building it within the existing market structure and then running the additional infrastructure centrally; or a new central utility model based on a shared platform.