Pay for a bank account?

Will charges to set up an account come into force?

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Will people have to pay for bank accounts in the future?

By Joe Harker

Chances are if you're reading this you've got a bank account, perhaps several. If you're particularly young you've probably got something set up in your name by your parents whereas the adults among you will likely have at least one account somewhere.

In the UK many banking services are free. As long as you have some money to deposit you can set up an account and thus access a wide range of services related to your money. You can consult bank staff in branches, set up payments at the click of a button and access your money just about anywhere.

However, one of the UK's high profile bankers believes the public should be paying fees just like they would do with any other services.

The Claim:

Ross McEwan, chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, said the public didn't understand the work that went into providing banking services that could he accessed for free.

He told LBC that it would not be long before people had to pay a charge to set up a bank account and access their services.

The RBS chief argued that paying no fee but being able to use cheques, cash machines and banking services was giving the public the false notion that there was no value in using the myriad of services offered by banks, instead taking these things for granted.

McEwan, who recently announced his resignation and will depart RBS within the year, said Brits would soon have to get used to paying their bank for services provided and insisted it wasn't a strange thing to be doing.

In many countries banks charge customers to maintain an account but it is hard to unpick something that has become the accepted culture in a nation. People of the UK are not used to paying a bank to set up an account and getting them used to the idea will be difficult.

The Counter Claim:

Getting a populace to pay for a service they have historically been able to access for free is going to be difficult. People might wonder why they need the bank if they are going to have to pay someone to store and later access their money.

One third of "unbanked" households don't have an account because of fees charged, according to a study by Pew Research Center.

Transparency over fees was the main reason why people were reluctant to hand over their money, they wanted to know why they had to pay a fee and what that money was going to be used for.

At a time when banks are perceived as super rich and money grubbing there are many who wonder why they need to pay the banks for the privilege of storing their cash.

Banks charging fees will do more to keep the poorest away according to Richard A Moran, who writes that some poor people already stay away from banks because they find them intimidating.

He writes that the biggest reason for a person not having a bank account is their unwillingness to step into a bank in the first place, introducing fees will make it even less likely that a person with limited means would step into the bank in the first place.

The Facts:

Banks in many countries charge their customers for services, including setting up and maintaining a bank account and having a card to access money.

The number of "unbanked" people in the UK is around 1.2 million according to The Guardian, who have calculated that a person without a bank account loses on average £485 a year for bills and services.

This loss is incurred through missing out on discounts and rewards that come with having a bank account, plus many companies offering lower rates of payments if direct debits are used.

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