Old-fashioned passbook account becomes a hit in Britain

I would take one out in Australia if it were available. Online money seems too insecure to me -- which is one reason why I have almost all my assets in shares and real property

Everybody laughed at the Yorkshire Building Society last year when it announced plans for a new savings accounts operated solely by using a passbook.

In the days of the internet, surely nobody wanted a savings account which could only be opened and operated by visiting a branch with your passbook?

But, twelve months later, the building society’s ‘Triple Access Saver’ has become the most popular account launched by the 148-year-old mutual.

In fact, it is around three times more popular than any other instant access savings account launched by Yorkshire Building Society over the last year.

The move shows a desire among savers to return to traditional types of customer service as disaffection grows over internet banking.

Mike Helliwell, savings product manager at the Yorkshire, which has 3.3million members, said: ‘This time last year, there was some scepticism about whether - in the age of internet banking - savers really wanted a simple, traditional passbook account. ‘The fact that Triple Access Saver has been our most popular savings account since its launch speaks for itself.

‘Customers appreciate the straightforward terms, ease of use and an attractive, competitive rate without any introductory bonus for a limited period.’

It comes at a time when banks and building societies are increasingly forcing people to go online in order to get the best deal on their savings accounts.

But this is a major problem for many people. Many do not have internet access, while others struggle to use their computer and others simply do not trust online banking.

With the Triple Access Saver, customers do not need have to remember a password or a PIN number.

They simply go into one of the building society’s 227 branches and open an account with a minimum of £100. The maximum balance is £2million.

Customers are allowed to make three withdrawals each year without incurring a penalty, and the account pays a variable interest rate, currently 2.25 per cent.

If they want to put more money into the account, or take out money, they take their passbook into the branch. Only a signature is required.

A Yorkshire spokesman said yesterday they launched the account because so many people were saying how they felt nostalgic about the days of the traditional passbook. It tells them how much money is in their account and the details of all their transactions since they opened it. She said: ‘People like to look at their passbook and to get it updated. They know where they are with a passbook. They can hold it in their hand.

‘People told us that they wanted a traditional account and so we launched one. Our customers did not want to have to go online to get the best deal.’ Unlike many of its rivals, Yorkshire Building Society is opening new branches, rather than closing them down. Over the last two weeks, it has opened branches in Ilkley and Pudsey and a third one opened in Bingley this week. Over the last four years, it has merged with three other building societies - the Barnsley, the Chelsea and Norwich & Peterborough.

When Yorkshire Building Society was founded in 1864 in Huddersfield, nobody was given a passbook. All transactions were recorded on a ledger at the branch.

It was not until people complained that they wanted their own record that the passbook - which was ‘passed’ between the customer and the branch staff - was introduced.


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