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High street retailers want access to your bank account, survey finds

Iain Withers
Shoppers in London - John Stillwell/PA Wire

High Street retailers want access to shoppers’ bank details in order to provide services such as faster refunds and ­in-store access to balances, ­according to new research.

Nearly a third of retailers will be ready to start taking advantage of reforms coming into force next month known as “Open Banking”, the Accenture study found.

Under the changes, companies will be granted access to customer bank account information such as transaction history so long as people give consent.

Competition authorities hope the changes, which come into force on Jan 13, will encourage bank account switching and drive down costs.

But a lesser known beneficiary of the new rules could be retailers.

Retailers want to know more about customers' banking habits Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The survey of 80 big chains, including both grocers and high street retailers, found nearly a third would be ready to plug into banks from next month. 

Jeremy Light, head of payments at Accenture, said retailers were hoping to offer customers access to their bank balances on their websites before purchasing, and quicker payments by bank transfer.

Longer term, Mr Light said grocers were working on ways of combining the reforms with biometric technology such as facial recognition.

This would enable customers to scan items with their phones and pay automatically without using a checkout.