The OFT, which has recently expressed its strong disapproval of unfair practices in Britain's current accounts market, declared on Tuesday that after its meetings with banks for the past three months it expects lenders to let customers refuse from the overdraft option.

At the moment, the majority of bank customers can withdraw money even if they have negative balance on their accounts without earlier agreement, but they are penalized for this by heavy fees and high interest rates.

Only a small number of customers are now given the right to refuse from the unauthorised overdraft option.

The OFT stopped a two-and-a-half year investigation of overdraft charges in 2009, after a surprise court decision in favour of the country's lenders. However, it said at the time it still had great concerns on current accounts.

It admitted on Tuesday the current account market made a real headway, but OFT will report again in 2012. The OFT is not authorized to levy price caps on bank charges or elsewhere.

However, it is going to examine barriers to entry in 2010.

That investigation could be crucial to some start-ups and existing lenders, who want to benefit from old British consumer confidence to grow or enter UK retail market, ruled by incumbent high street banks.

OFT Chief Executive John Fingleton told they would not stop monitoring the banks and would review the need for action, including legislation, if these changes are not carried out.

He added that their 2008 probe, which had revealed obscure costs, difficulties related to switching accounts, and unauthorised overdrafts, resulted in commitments on overdrafts, more transparency and better treatment of customers.


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