Walking into a branch to conduct your banking affairs over the counter has already become a thing of the past for many consumers and will become increasingly rare in the years to come, according to the chief executive of the British Bankers' Association (BBA).
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Anthony Browne expressed his surprise that many people think the banking sector should revert to methods used in the mid-20th century. He said people often tell him we need a return to the style of banking characterised by Captain Mainwaring of Dad's Army, a "nit-picking, bureaucratic and elitist" bank manager sporting pinstripes and a gold fob watch.
Many years ago, members of the public were constrained by strict bank opening times and could only find out their balance over the counter. Developments in technology and banking methods mean consumers can now view their accounts and conduct their financial affairs online, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Mr Browne said it is undeniable that "compared to the supposed golden age of banking, the way we bank now is far easier and faster". He also argued that a desire to return to branch-based banking "seems out of kilter with what millions of customers want".
"Most of our major banks are seeing a ten per cent fall in branch transactions each year," the BBA chief executive wrote. "When you can do so much of your basic banking tasks from the palm of your hand or at a cash machine, why bother taking time out of your day to trudge off to the high street?"
Mr Browne predicted that branches will continue to fall in number in the years to come, but will not be phased out entirely in the foreseeable future. A new report from the BBA and professional services firm EY showed that 2,274 bank branches have been refurbished in the past two years, underlining their ongoing importance in the industry.
The study also revealed that the weekly value of internet and mobile banking transactions has increased from £5.8 billion last year to £6.4 billion today.
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