Big four banks deserve sanction

Allan Leonard, Alliance Party Spokesperson for Laganbank, welcomes today’s announcement that there is to be a formal inquiry by the Competition Commission, into the weak competition of the banking market in Northern Ireland.

Replying to the announcement by the Office of Fair Trading, Allan Leonard said:

“Northern Ireland customers have been paying over the odds for bank services here for quite some time now. The recent investigation by OFT formally confirmed that, and put the local banks on notice.

“The OFT report is damning. For example, OFT found that the big four banks charge when customers are in credit, they do not compete on price, and they do not try to win customers over from one another.

“For example, there is clear evidence of parallel pricing, with Northern Bank acting as price leader with the rest following. This reminds me of neighbouring petrol stations fixing the prices for each other — ripe conditions for an oligopoly.

“It is disappointing that the banks here didn’t take adequate action themselves. Yet today’s announcement that the Competition Commission will now intervene should at last result in some positive action.

“The Alliance Party welcomes the forthcoming inquiry, in order to bring fair competition by the local banks. We only want what customers in the rest of the UK enjoy, and what a recent competition inquiry in the Republic is delivering.”

“It’s high time to put this right with Northern Ireland’s customers.”


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