A new customer guarantee to take the hassle out of switching current accounts and ramp up competition between providers will be in place in one month's time, the UK's payments body has confirmed.
Some 33 bank and building society brands accounting for almost all current accounts in the marketplace have signed up to the agreement, which will cut the length of time it takes to move accounts from up to 30 working days to seven working days.
The Payments Council confirmed the launch date of September 16 for the streamlined switching service, which also means all outgoing and incoming payments will be moved over to a customer's new current account.
Payments which are accidentally made to the old account will automatically be redirected to the new account for 13 months after the switch. Consumers will be refunded interest and charges if anything goes wrong.
Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the Payments Council, said: "As final preparations are made for launch we look forward to a new era of account switching which will lead to greater choice for customers and wider competition in the marketplace."
There have already been signs that banks are gearing up for the changes, although not all of the preparations may be welcomed by consumers.
Last week, Halifax put a new rule on a £100 cash incentive it offers for customers who want to switch to it. This means consumers are now forced to shut their previous current account down when they complete their switch to Halifax.
Before the new rule was introduced, customers only had to transfer their direct debits and incoming payments to receive the £100, but Halifax said it had introduced the new requirement "in readiness" for the new switching service.
A Treasury spokeman said: "The Government is determined that the banking system works for customers. That is why it asked the industry to create a switching service that makes it simpler, safer and quicker for customers to move their account if they think there is a better deal out there for them.
"The Government looks forward to the launch of the service next month which, if successful, has the potential to revolutionise customer choice."