While banks have had to adapt to changing consumer habits, the pace of change has left some communities and businesses financially isolated.
Unsurprisingly, this has gained the attention of politicians. There are three bills before parliament, scheduled for readings in January, February and March.
The Banking and Post Office Bill would require banks to provide certain services in small communities; the Banking (Cash Machine Charges and Financial Inclusion) Bill would prohibit cash machine charges and require banks to enable free cash withdrawals from current accounts; and the Access to Banking Services Bill is designed to make provisions about access, especially in rural areas, and for community banking hubs.
The industry needs to deliver choice to all customers regardless of how they want to access services, where they’re based, or their net worth, whether through a bank branch or an alternative service in the community. And it now seems that banks may be forced to do this by legislation.
Banks should focus on smarter not smaller branch networks.
The right technology can make branches more efficient and be a revenue driver, not a cost. Where branches just aren’t viable, free-to-use ATMs are the second part of the financial lifeline.
Today’s ATMs can function as mini-branches, providing key services like opening accounts, applying for loans and managing bills.
They are not just cash dispensers.
Mark Aldred, banking specialist, Auriga