One million individuals within the UK could lose simple access to a bank branch of their native space, as banks proceed to shutter their excessive road operations in favour of digital investments.
Analysis by analytics software program firm SAS in contrast the variety of branches in 2020 and 2023 in UK constituencies, areas represented by an MP. The examine discovered that 80 localities have misplaced 80% of their bank branches over the previous three years, and the typical UK constituency has misplaced over half its bank branches previously three years.
SAS mentioned that at present closure charges, rural locations like Ross and Skye in Scotland and Central Devon and Gainsborough in England could don’t have any in-person branches in simply a few months’ time.
Even some city constituencies, together with Leeds East, Gateshead, Cardiff West and Bristol South, are susceptible to being with out an in-person branch within the subsequent 12 months.
Louise Potts, head of banking and buyer advisory at SAS UK, mentioned on-line banking has revolutionised private finance, making it simpler for patrons to perform day-to-day transactions no matter their location.
However she warned that on-line banking shouldn’t be all the time a viable choice for everybody. “In-person banking companies present essential companies if you’re struggling to access the web or discover a answer on-line,” mentioned Potts.
In accordance to latest figures from client rights champion Which?, banks and constructing societies have closed or scheduled the closure of over 5,500 branches since January 2015. Closures reached their peak in 2017, when 867 websites within the UK had been shuttered. In 2019, 444 branches shut their doorways for good, whereas 2020 noticed 369 reduce from branch networks, as a number of banks shelved plans due to the pandemic. In 2021, a complete of 735 had been closed, adopted by 662 final 12 months.
Customers are more and more utilizing cellular apps and web sites to full their on a regular basis banking, and banks are responding with large investments in expertise.
The migration to digital banking was accelerated in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, when branches had been pressured to shut due to lockdown restrictions and folks lessened their use of money in a bid to keep away from bodily contact with different individuals and possessions. This transformation resulted in many individuals selecting to proceed utilizing digital companies even as soon as restrictions had been lifted.
Banks are taking a look at methods to assuage individuals’s fears of dropping access to bodily banking companies by tech-driven pilots of cellular bodily companies.
In January, Barclays launched a venture to create “banking pods” the place banking companies could be accessed. The bank describes the banking pods as “purpose-built, semi-permanent buildings in websites comparable to purchasing centres and retail parks”. It mentioned no less than 10 can be arrange within the UK by this summer time. To achieve prospects in distant areas, it additionally plans for six extra electrical car banking vans to be added to its present fleet of 10.
Final month, TSB mentioned it was piloting its personal banking pods, which is able to provide banking companies in purchasing centres and supply an alternate supply of banking companies as extra bank branches shut.
“Banking hubs have grow to be a brand new different for individuals who don’t have access to a conventional branch,” mentioned Potts at SAS. “In the end, everybody wants access to banking. Our analysis highlights the areas that will want help, whether or not it’s technological developments to enhance web access, or consideration for the opening of a brand new banking hub.”