Irish small businesses are urged to move their accounts from KBC and Ulster despite the current crisis with rising energy and business costs.

The Small Firms Association (SFA) urges all of its members to prioritize switching banking providers and ensure that all new bank accounts are set up correctly, so they can continue to make and receive payments.

According to the Central Bank, of the 292,996 Ulster Bank and KBC Bank accounts closed in the eight months to the end of August, 283,253, or 97%, were accounts held by private households. SME customers, including sole traders, accounted for 3 percent.

“I understand the pressure that business owners are currently under due to the energy affordability crisis and rising business costs,” said SFA Chairman Graham Byrne.

“However, now is the time to ensure their banking services are not disrupted. This includes choosing a new provider, moving their balances and transactions, and closing their current and deposit accounts. As Revenue’s payment and filing deadline approaches, businesses should also ensure their new account details are up-to-date with Revenue.”

Regarding the planned departure of KBC and Ulster, the SFA urged the government to focus on attracting new banking and non-banking business to Ireland to fill the void they leave behind.

According to the SFA’s recent Cost of Doing Business report, 22% of all businesses with less than 50 employees have borrowed in the last 12 months in order to expand their business or buy new machinery. However, 12% of businesses did not apply, thinking the loan would not be approved.

“These findings show the importance and need for borrowing by the Irish small business community,” said Byrne. “Additionally, members report feeling fatigued from the arduous credit process and previous denials, which prevents them from applying for new loans or reduces their applications.”