Rural residents being left behind by closure of branches

Traditional banks consider ways to reach customers left behind by the digital shift

London–Banks must seek an alternative to branch closures, as only 23 per cent of rural residents are using mobile banking, according to the FCA. The FCA surveyed 13,000 people and found that only 23 per cent of rural residents use mobile banking and 54 per cent use internet banking, compared to the 45 per cent and 78 per cent respectively in urban areas.

Bank branch closures are accelerating with about 60 closing every month and an expected total of 2,868 branches closing between 2015 and the end of 2018.

This is especially worrying for rural residents who may not have the right connectivity for online banking and are already facing difficulty reaching distant branches owing to their health conditions.

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As banks increasingly move online, they must not forget the importance of inclusion in the way they deliver their services, caution experts at Intelenet Global Services.

Bhupender Singh, CEO of global BPO Intelenet® Global Services, comments: “It is clear that today’s digital climate is transforming traditional banking institutions. Although mobile banking is predicted to account for 73 per cent of all current account interactions by 2020, there is a clear need for banks to not lose sight of the customers losing out because of this shift.

“Banks rely on their established customer base and it is the in-person expertise that continues to set traditional banks apart from their newer Fintech competitors – and they must fight to retain this distinctiveness using technology to enhance this very advantage.

“Next generation technology can bring financial advisors to the doorstep of customers, allowing for the inclusion of customers otherwise unable to keep up with the effects of rapid digitisation. This is especially important in areas where access to branches is limited but customers are finding it difficult to switch to online or mobile services. Using an Uber-like scheduling tool, banks can more cheaply and efficiently manage a mobile workforce of advisers who can meet customers at their homes. If customers cannot make it to a branch, the bank can go to the customer.

“Changes to the banking experience are being driven by customers, but should not ignore demographics who may get left behind. As customers are more empowered to bank in several different ways it is up to the banks to connect the dots of the multichannel experience.”

Intelenet Global Services has been recognised by analyst NelsonHall as a ‘Leader in Customer Management Services’.

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