The UK has lost almost two-thirds of its bank branches in the last 30 years, sparking fears that communities are losing access to mainstream financial services.
Recent research by consumer group Which? shows there are 7,586 bank branches today compared with 20,583 in 1988. This leaves a fifth of households more than three kilometres from their nearest branch.
Sparsely-populated parts of Scotland have been hardest hit by closures, accounting for the top 70 communities farthest from a bank. The south-west and east of England have also been disproportionately affected.
So with more customers banking online and the retail banking dynamic changing, how can banks maintain service cost-effectively across their network?
The Post Office with its 11,500 UK outlets is often proposed as a solution when banks close. However, the Which? research questioned the effectiveness of this. Of the 2,000 adults surveyed, almost half were unaware the Post Office offered bank services. 47 percent said they were unlikely to use Post Office banking services, citing concerns around staff expertise, long queues and a lack of privacy.
Technology and automation are also ways to maintain service at a lower cost. Banks are exploring various self-service or semi-attended branch concepts. These function as community banking hubs, offering basic banking services to local customers, businesses and charities.
This includes cash and cheque deposits, bag drops, withdrawals and mini statements. It is a boon for local businesses banking takings and charities banking cheques. Charities are one of the largest acceptors of cheques in the UK. 87% of charities either made or received a cheque payment in the past month. 29% receive over half their donations by cheque, according to the Cheque & Credit Clearing Company.
How CashFlows can help
Financial inclusion has emerged as a significant policy objective over the last decade. The largest UK banks have been required to offer fee-free basic bank accounts since 2016. The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has also been clear that there needs to be a wide geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs for people to access their cash.
Against the backdrop of bank branch closures, banks must think smart about how they cut costs yet maintain service and financial inclusion. Banks and independent ATM deployers (IADs) are exploring new business and utility outsourcing models. CashFlows can help in this regard.
We are a member of all the major international card schemes and offers BIN Sponsorship to independent ATM deployers (IADs) and others wanting to access ATM acquiring opportunities. We’ve been an active ATM BIN Sponsor since 2010, so are an experienced and reliable partner.
We currently work with all the largest IADs across Europe and are the principal ATM sponsor for the UK’s leading transaction processor.
The present challenge to the industry is to explore new business models. To find out more about CashFlows’ ATM BIN Sponsorship, get in touch today.