Sam Knowles, head of KiwiBank, has suggested that people have a bank account number for life.
The concept is similar to number portability in the telecommunications industry.
I think it’s a few steps short. In the early 2000’s I looked at this very issue. Bank accounts are like IP addresses. Much more useful would be a DNS-like system for bank accounts. You don’t give people your IP address, why give them your bank account number?
Simply linking your bank account number to a more public and easier to remember address, like an email address or web address, would allow you to give your deposit money on your behalf and your bank account can be anything at all. If you change your bank account, no big deal.
As an example, Jane Smith might have a rental property. To her tenants she could say: “Send your rent payment to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
In her banking portal Jane could map her email address to pay into any one of her accounts. If Jane changes her bank – no big deal. The actual bank account number she uses is private and hidden to the world.
Our public bank account could be xero.com. We know it’s globally unique, authoritative and easy for our customers remember. Much easier than transposing numbers and we could change it between banks as required.
There are so many opportunities for innovation in banking.