March is ‘Move Your Money’ month – this is how it works


8:30 am - March 1st 2012

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contribution by Brett Scott

The Move Your Money campaign isn’t rocket-science. Firstly, it asks people to open an account with a new, more sustainable bank. Secondly, it asks people to shift as much money as they can from their old bank account into the new one.

It’s this simplicity that’s seen the campaign cut across political battle lines and appeal to a wide range of people who’re annoyed with banks.

The campaign is run by a group of volunteers and thus far two ‘better bailout’ events have been held outside Barclays and RBS.

The ‘better bailout’ event concept is simple. A group of people form a line outside a bank, and do one of three things.

They either 1) Close down their account, 2) notify the bank that they intend to close down their account, or 3) register their disapproval with a letter.

The campaign encourages people to then cut their old card in half, or find some other creative way to destroy it.

The most interesting ones so far have included people using a cheese-grater to grate their card, and microwaving their card. In case you’re wondering, microwaving is not recommended.

March is ‘Move Your Money Month’. During the month, Move Your Money would like people to:

• Set up their own MYM groups in the UK and host simple events. Groups have already started setting up in Leicester, Edinburgh, Leeds, Bath, Manchester and Brixton.

• Spread the word via social media and other means (The campaign is an unfunded grassroots affair, and relies on being shared via word-of-mouth, Twitter, Facebook and email)

• Set up a new account and take a photo of themselves cutting their card, or driving over it in a steamroller. They’re hoping to compile the photos into a wall of dissent, showcasing the creative ways that cards can be ‘de-commissioned’ (they recommend not doing anything dangerous though!).

The team will also be using the month to release a new guide to ethical ISAs, and teaming with NUS to launch a student bank-switching toolkit.

The large high street banks have got complacent in being a protected oligopoly.

Each pound moving out though, erodes their power, and each pound moving out helps empower a new generation of sustainable banks, mutuals, co-operatives, and credit unions.


Brett Scott operates as a consultant, bridging the gap between high finance and those involved in socio-environmental justice and international development. He tweets here and blogs here.

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Reader comments


Can I move my debts to another bank as well?

Very interesting, and I wish you well. The idea of moving away from profiteering banks and not propping up a parasitical financial system is so good that some people have been practising this kind of avoidance for years. I can’t help wondering why any supporters of this principle have even got accounts with RBS, Barclays and the like. I won’t be moving any money as mine is with Nationwide and the Cooperative Bank already and has been for a long time. Surely many like-minded people are in the same situation?

3. Chaise Guevara

@ 1 Andreas

“Can I move my debts to another bank as well?”

Better than that – our friendly call centre staff will help you to consolidate all your debts into one, easy-to-manage payment!

(Typical APR 45,000%)

How much time must you have to be able to do this sort of thing? I struggle to get to a dry-cleaners during opening hours.

5. Chaise Guevara

@ 4 TimJ

Well, Barclays’ has a flagship branch in Manchester that appears to be based on the film Minority Report. One of its mind-blowing, high-tech new functionalities is that it’s open on Sundays.

It does tend to get very complicate though. We have two substantially bailed out banks in RBS and Lloyds (HBOS etc.) and the others were supported by QE etc as Barclays accepted. The way I see this is that the Co-op and possibly Nationwide and other mutuals are also tainted by an element of government support.

What we need is a list of acceptable financial institutions to use and why they are not connected to any of the financial problems.

One of its mind-blowing, high-tech new functionalities is that it’s open on Sundays.

That tends to be when I make up for the fact that I see my children for less than an hour each day during the week. Plus, I don’t live in Manchester…

8. Chaise Guevara

@ 7 TimJ

Fair enough!

That said, I don’t think it’s reasonable to accuse protesters of having too much time on your hands. It’s a fully general counterargument to any protest, ever, and as such doesn’t actually say much. Plus it’s an ad hom, of course.

My personal protest is that I withdraw most of my money from the bank and tuck it away safely. I have complete control over my spare money and I decide where it’s spent. It actually feels quite nice to spend real money that you can feel/touch. This is my protest.

10. Planeshift

Tim, there is actually another issue with what you’ve implied – which is that changing you bank account can be a time consuming and confusing activity. Worth noting that a similar process used to exist in the energy industry with the result that consumers were ripped off, and work by ofgem is only partially improving things.

We need to make switching banks easier purely from a consumer point of view.

Well, Barclays’ has a flagship branch in Manchester that appears to be based on the film Minority Report. One of its mind-blowing, high-tech new functionalities is that it’s open on Sundays.

Apart from the fact that that would be about a 400 mile round trip, I tend to use my weekends to make up for the fact that I only see my children for less than an hour a day during the week…

Apologies for double posting – I’m never sure what’s been posted and what hasn’t these days!

That said, I don’t think it’s reasonable to accuse protesters of having too much time on your hands.

Oh, it was pure envy and nothing more.

We need to make switching banks easier purely from a consumer point of view.

Damn straight. I have a definite policy of dealing with firms that allow me to do everything online, because if it’s not possible online I usually won’t get round to doing it.

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 13 TimJ

“Oh, it was pure envy and nothing more.”

Fair play. BTW, my sarky comments about it being “mind-blowing” weren’t aimed at you, they were aimed at Barclays’ attempt to create The Exciting New Bank of the FUTURE! Looking back that might not have been clear, sorry.

14 – Oh, I read them in the voice of that Futurama chap

“Welcome to the world of TOMORROW!!”

Did all my switching to Co-op a few years ago online…

Can I just point out that this seems to be a comendable use of the free market – although the banks are hardly the best example of this…

But we should indeed move our money around if we do not like our banks – and we can even move debts (it’s called taking out a different loan/mortgage), which might actually be more effective in hurting banks, as they must make more money from debt interest than from current accounts in the present climate. So could I suggest also moving mortgages etc.

18. Chaise Guevara

@ 15 TimJ

That would be the correct reading!

19. Richard W

I don’t mean to be sneering but this just smacks of tokenism where worthy people do something pointless to make themselves feel even more worthy. A public display of worthiness sounds like something dreamed up in the Students Union. In what way could this possibly harm banks? The people who will be withdrawing their money and closing their account actually cost the banks money. The banks will save money through their actions. Banks do not make money by having digits on their balance sheet, they make money by selling stuff to customers. So the people who are in a position to close their accounts will tend to be the same people who have not bought financial products i.e. they are a liability. Withdraw money as cash to keep under the mattress and the government will love you for the free loan.

It would be better if you campaigned for the government to implement the ICB proposals to make it easier for customers to switch their accounts with all their direct debits and standing orders intact in one instruction within seven days. Possibly even retaining the same bank account number. Currently the average person changes banks once every 26 years, so there is considerable inertia. Apart from being lazy, people do not switch accounts because they fear payments will go awry. Not without good reason because one in eleven payments does go awry when people switch accounts. The fault lies invariably with the firms requesting payment and not the banks. Energy and phone companies are serial offenders. It is probably a significant IT problem to solve these issues, but banging the right heads together should make it easier for people to switch without the fear of being billed twice.

Everyone appears to love the ethical Co-operative Bank, who incidentally were also guilty of mis-selling payment protection insurance. Moreover, the Co-operative Bank is not actually a co-operative, they are a plc owned by a co-operative. There are lots of different ethical and mutual types of banks developing to suit all tastes. The reason I am critical of tokenism is that you must first make it easy and safe for people to switch.

20. Chaise Guevara Travel Edition

@ Richard

I’m not convinced about this protest either, but you may be underestimating the importance of these customers. Firstly, who’s to say some of them don’t have profitable accounts? Secondly, non-profitable customers may be desirable because of that inertia you mention. For example, students are often a short term loss (low funds, free overdrafts) but valuable in as the long term.

21. Richard W

If you think about who is likely to close their account. Is someone who has taken out a loan going to try and close their account and say to the bank that they are not going to repay them? I suppose they could try. The ones who will close their accounts are the people who have no contracted commitments to the bank. Getting a salary paid into a bank account, using ATMs etc and not buying any financial products is a cost to the bank. They are the ones likely to close their accounts. The former pay for free banking for the latter. The latter leaving will save the banks money. One would probably have to be removing anything between £10,000-£50,000 from an account to actually cost the bank money if the account holder does not buy financial products.

Yes, banks target students because they know that they are unlikely to leave once they open a current account. So encouraging students who could possibly go on to be high earners to avoid the high st. banks does have a degree of logic.

22. Chaise Guevara

@ 21 Richard

Having £10,000 in savings is hardly the preserve of the super-rich, and it’s easy as pie to shift, although this campaign would probably be better if it tried to get people to move loans and mortgages. My main point remains the idea of customers as long-term prospects, though. Students are DEFINITELY seen as valuable, or they wouldn’t have bribed me into moving bank at 18 with the promise of a £2,000 interest-free overdraft and a five-year railcard.

Obviously, a lot of the people involved will be customers that the banks will secretly be pleased to see go, in terms of direct ROI, but every account closed in protest adds up to a bigger PR embarrassment.

To be honest, I don’t think this will achieve anything either, but because it won’t get enough people involved, not because it has the wrong kind of people.

23. Richard W

£10,000 is not much in the way of savings. However, there are huge amounts of people in this country earning a six figure salary who do not even have £5,000 in liquid savings. Saving in a bank account is a pretty dumb way of saving as a store of wealth. The point I was trying to get across is the operation of most bank accounts are a cost to banks. Get a salary paid in, pay some direct debits from the account, use ATMs, never go overdrawn, don’t buy financial products from the bank and you are a liability, not an asset. It is the margin made off the people who buy the products who generate a return for banks. The loss making customers are more likely to leave than the profitable customers.

But could any bank be “sustainable” in the view of the OP’s author – “a consultant, bridging the gap between high finance and those involved in socio-environmental justice and international development”?

So why change? If everyone piles into (say) the Co-Op Bank, the Co-Op will simply put the money on the market – and lend it to other financial institutions.

You can tweak the regulation, but capitalism – free market or state – is the only game in town.

25. Chaise Guevara

@ 23 Richard

I don’t think we disagree on anything major, we just have different estimates of how serious this could be for banks – and I doubt either of us have sufficient priors to prove it one way or another.

good to see the comments here. My credit union is keen to welcome savers and borrowers.
Its a sad reality that not many people can completely close their bank accounts, we all need credit and debit cards, standing orders etc.
BUT we can hold our main finances with a mutual provider such as a building society or co-op bank, and some credit unions now starting to offer mainstream products such as prepaid debit cards.
The move your money campaign started last year in america. Some 500,000 americans moved over $1billion out of the “nasty” banks, that sent a clear message to the banks that people are still angry over the mess the banks made.
So answer a simple question …… Are you angry with the way the banks have avoided taxes, avoided taking responsibility for the economic crash ? IF so, what can you do about it? Move your money is a small simple concept which has been successful in the USA, why not help it be successful in the UK too.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    March is 'Move Your Money' month – this is how it works http://t.co/2xitCi03

  2. Alex Braithwaite

    March is ‘Move Your Money’ month – this is how it works | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/dmjQXRkO via @libcon

  3. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : March is ‘Move Your Money ’ month – this is how it works http://t.co/mOqTE0wQ

  4. Xana C Santos

    #UK : March is ‘Move Your Money ’ month – this is how it works http://t.co/mOqTE0wQ

  5. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – March is ‘Move Your Money’ month – this is how it works http://t.co/s8UI0976

  6. Nicola Chan

    March is 'Move Your Money' month – this is how it works http://t.co/2xitCi03

  7. TunbridgeWells Uncut

    March is ‘Move Your Money’ month – this is how it works | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/E5PwTjsf #mym

  8. Brett Scott

    Blowtorch your bank card: @moveyourmoneyuk launches #MoveYourMoney month in March. Check out my LibCon piece for more http://t.co/kGEKEvt9

  9. Move Your Money UK

    Blowtorch your bank card: @moveyourmoneyuk launches #MoveYourMoney month in March. Check out my LibCon piece for more http://t.co/kGEKEvt9

  10. Move Your Money UK

    "Each £ moved helps empower a new generation of sustainable banks, mutuals, co-operatives, and credit unions." http://t.co/RjTgpz9o @LibCon

  11. Andrea Di Turi

    "Each £ moved helps empower a new generation of sustainable banks, mutuals, co-operatives, and credit unions." http://t.co/RjTgpz9o @LibCon

  12. Red Ladder Theatre

    Blowtorch your bank card: @moveyourmoneyuk launches #MoveYourMoney month in March. Check out my LibCon piece for more http://t.co/kGEKEvt9

  13. Joe Cottrell-Boyce

    March is ‘Move Your Money’ month – this is how it works | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/q9BdqLUv via @libcon

  14. Noxi

    RT @libcon: March is 'Move Your Money' month – this is how it works http://t.co/TKo94XUT

  15. Jason Brickley

    March is ‘Move Your Money’ month – this is how it works http://t.co/62Z5AuUG

  16. Zoe Tyndall

    Today is start of Move Your Money Month – great blogs @brightgrn http://t.co/nT5sahGK and @libcon http://t.co/IZOm6qPg amongst others #mym

  17. Liz K

    March is 'Move Your Money' month – this is how it works http://t.co/2xitCi03

  18. Gavin Thomson

    Today is start of Move Your Money Month – great blogs @brightgrn http://t.co/nT5sahGK and @libcon http://t.co/IZOm6qPg amongst others #mym

  19. Pull Your Money Out Of Corporate Banks Incrementally: Move To Local Credit Unions. | Political Vel Craft

    […] March is ‘Move Your Money’ month – this is how it works (liberalconspiracy.org) […]

  20. Jude Hider

    March is ‘Move Your Money’ month – this is how it works | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/sxgAhYAp via @libcon

  21. Jude Hider

    RT @libcon: March is 'Move Your Money' month – this is how it works http://t.co/aXfLQXQf





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