Ulster Bank & KBC customers beware! Opening a business bank account can take a lot of time.

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By Dave Hickey

What’s happening?

Ulster Bank and KBC will close their banking operations in Ireland by the end of this year or early next year.

Starting last week, both banks will issue to customers from 1 June on a phased basis, a process that will continue until all customers have been contacted. On receipt of the closure notices, customers will have six months to close their account.

How does it impact my business?

If you have accounts with either of these banks and need similar accounts to keep trading, then you need to replace those accounts with ones which will provide your business with similar or better services.

Who can provide replacement services?

Some of the new online-only entrants may offer some of the services offered by these banks, but they may not provide all.

Most businesses will need to open an account with one of the three remaining full-service retail banks, that is: PTSB, Bank of Ireland and AIB.

When do I need to act?

Bank of Ireland, AIB and PTSB are expecting a lot of businesses to apply to open accounts over the next few months and they anticipate there will be a last-minute rush towards the end of the year as the departure dates for UB and KBC approach.

It can take some time to open an account for a business because the banks are required to go through Anti-Money-Laundering and other procedures. In addition, the business needs to advise customers and staff, change direct debits, etc., which takes more time.

The banks say there will be a glut of applicants in late summer and early autumn this year, possibly leading to delays in processing applications.

What should I do now?

If you haven’t already opened an account with one of the three banks, they suggest that you start this process immediately.

If you’re unsure which bank you want to use, you can open an account with one or more while you make up your mind. This will at least remove one potential delay when you do start to move your account.

For further information see each of the bank’s websites below.

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