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Switching costs in the market for personal current accounts: some evidence for the United Kingdom

  • Céline Gondat-Larralde
  • Erlend Nier

This paper provides an analysis of the competitive process in the market for personal current accounts in the United Kingdom. Using survey data, we first describe some stylised developments in this market over our sample period (1996-2001). We find a gradual change in the distribution of market shares over time. This contrasts with a marked dispersion in price, which appears to persist through time. Analysing the evolution of market shares, we address two key questions: (i) are bank market shares responding to price differentials?; (ii) if not, which type of imperfect competition best fits the data? Our conclusions point to the existence of customer switching costs as a key determinant of the nature of competition in the market for personal current accounts. The results of this study are therefore broadly supportive of a number of recent initiatives to facilitate switching bank accounts in the United Kingdom.

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Paper provided by Bank of England in its series Bank of England working papers with number 292.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:boe:boeewp:292
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  1. Heffernan, Shelagh A., 2002. "How do UK financial institutions really price their banking products?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(10), pages 1997-2016, October.
  2. Klemperer, Paul, 1995. "Competition When Consumers Have Switching Costs: An Overview with Applications to Industrial Organization, Macroeconomics, and International Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 515-39, October.
  3. Paul S. Calem & Gerald A. Carlino, 1989. "The concentration/conduct relationship in bank deposit markets," Working Papers 89-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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  5. Salop, Steven & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Bargains and Ripoffs: A Model of Monopolistically Competitive Price Dispersion," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 493-510, October.
  6. Elizabeth K. Kiser, 2002. "Household switching behavior at depository institutions: evidence from survey data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-44, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Panzar, John C & Rosse, James N, 1987. "Testing for "Monopoly" Equilibrium," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 443-56, June.
  8. S. Baranzoni & P. Bianchi & L. Lambertini, 2000. "Market Structure," Working Papers 368, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  9. Demsetz, Harold, 1973. "Industry Structure, Market Rivalry, and Public Policy," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-9, April.
  10. De Bandt, Olivier & Davis, E. Philip, 2000. "Competition, contestability and market structure in European banking sectors on the eve of EMU," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 1045-1066, June.
  11. Moshe Kim & Doron Kliger & Bent Vale, 2001. "Estimating Switching Costs and Oligopolistic Behavior," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 01-13, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  12. Hannan, Timothy H., 1991. "Bank commercial loan markets and the role of market structure: evidence from surveys of commercial lending," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 133-149, February.
  13. Amel, Dean F. & Hannan, Timothy H., 1999. "Establishing banking market definitions through estimation of residual deposit supply equations," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(11), pages 1667-1690, November.
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