Helping the Unbanked Discussion - Should Banking become a Human Right?

I hate to be the person who does this but it’s one of my bugbears when it comes to banking discussions. It’s “Cifas” not “Cifa” – the ‘s’ is part of the name of the organisation


HSBC have put a stop to that with their new Homeless Account. Again change made without the need of parliament.

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See my post above - if Bank Y gives a customer a CIFAS marker and tells them, then they’ve committed a tipping off offence. For somebody like me who works in a regulated sector, personally that could lead to up to a five year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine.

Would you take that risk?

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No but if the customer can go to CIFAS straight away and see it then is it really tipping them off?

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Also most CIFAS are unfairly applied. I remember searching CIFAS on the Ombudsman and they ruled alot of upheld complaints involving asking a bank to withdraw the marker.

You have literally no idea how much work HSBC have put in to make that happen though. They needed approval from UK Finance, the FCA and other industry bodies. It’s been a long time in the planning and still isn’t available for everybody.

I agree with your broad points, and I admire your conviction but there’s a lot more complexity than you realise.


Yes, because it isn’t the institution that applied the marker.

I imagine, but don’t know, that in every case where a CIFAS marker has been applied the person who it’s been applied to has been referred to the national crime agency. That’s what makes it a tipping off offence because CIFAS = SAR.


I just think there’s a bit of change that can be considered. There’s very minimal transparency in banking and there’s definitely cases where accounts are closed or refused for reasons beyond crime.

(Low earner. Benefits not profitable etc)
This defo happens behind closed doors. That’s where the system needs to change

Resorting to trying to be funny doesn’t help your argument here. You’re passionate about this and that’s commendable, Dan is trying to help you and continue the conversation from a position of knowledge, you can’t just dismiss regulations because you don’t agree or your conspiracy theories.

You seem to think that one simple mistake = CIFAS/Unbanked/Life ruined. It’s never going to be as simple as that. There are options for people with a CIFAS marker, limited ones, granted, but there are options.

A bank that accepts anybody no matter what they’ve done or continue to do is a nice idea but it’s pure fiction in reality.


I can say with 100% certainty that we would never close an account or refuse a potential customer account for any of their reasons.

It’s not conspiracy theories. It’s lack of transparency when banks just choose to say no.

Does National Hunter still get every applications. Customer makes.

I remember reading that every financial product you apply for goes to national Hunter? Not sure tho. I think it might be sent to them to cross reference with other applications an individual has made to check their submitted info matches up.

Firms can cross-reference an application with Cifas and/or National Hunter records. It depends on the firm which of the two (or both) they use. I once saw a list somewhere online

I’d argue that there is a role for a state owned bank

We technically already have one in Natwest

So what if NatWest refused someone a current account. Can they then use that excuse to dispute the decision?

I think this is the crux really for me. We have private businesses providing what is often an essential service.

I think everyone should have a bank account. Even if they are serving an open prison sentence for money laundering. But especially if they haven’t been found guilty of anything in the first place.

I think there is a solution here, it’s just that the current system focuses on each individual bank protecting themselves without much regard to the collective effect of all banks doing that to an individual.


This has been a fascinating read.

Thank you all for your contributions, particular @Dan5 for the more “internal” perspective.


Absolutely. It’s a shame that Royal Mail/Post Office was privatised because they’d be a prime candidate to offer a public sector bank account. Which IIRC is pretty much how Kiwi Bank started.


Just a slight correction: the Post Office is still publicly owned. In the run up to privatisation of the Royal Mail they were (if memory serves) legally separated.


Yup, sorry that’s right. IMO that was the wrong thing to do, but that’s probably a different topic :joy: