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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Let me compare

Financial Express reports

City watchdog the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is to launch an independent Web site to help consumers compare credit cards. The move follows recommendations by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) designed to help consumers get a better credit card deal. Others will include improvements in summary boxes on credit card marketing materials and statements, standardisation of terminology used in product literature and greater consumer education on the benefits of shopping around for a credit card. The OFT report into credit card comparisons follows a super-complaint from consumer group Which? in April last year. Which? said people choose credit cards without understanding all the issues that affect the cost of the card, and OFT research later showed that 70 per cent of credit card holders do not shop around. John Fingleton, chief executive of the OFT, said: "No one wants to throw money away, but consumers who don't shop around for credit cards are doing just that. "It is essential that consumers are given the right tools to make comparisons between credit cards more easily, and we can achieve this through some of the recommendations announced today which have received widespread support." Payments body Apacs said the new comparison Web site would prove an important additional tool to help people make informed choices about the card that best suits their needs. Director of communications Sandra Quinn said: "We are backing the OFT in hoping that these proposals will spur customers on to make better decisions by building upon the work already undertaken by the industry to make credit card products more transparent."

Though the credit wave is pretty new to have hit the shore of Bangladeshi youth/consumers, it would be nice to see some entrepreneurs coming up with a comparison website for not only the desi credit cards but also for comparing various other financial products offered by numerous banks and NBFIs of the country. Experts might argue, but I get a feeling (only) that my bank (guess which one) keeps on siphoning off money from my account with many innovative hidden costs (!) under the banner of 'this VAT', 'that VAT', processing fees, charges etc. Most of the time I don't understand why I am paying for all those charges and wonder if other banks do the same or not. My banker friends are eager to take advantage of my ignorance and really didn't welcome the idea of a comparison based website which would only make the consumers more educated and alert of different banking products. Nevertheless, I am the customer and I believe I am the king and I should have the option to choose. Any financial entrepreneur reading this...can you make out a business model out of this?

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