A charity has called for more shared banking hubs to be opened in the UK to assist individuals who are not comfortable managing their finances online. These bank hubs, shared by multiple High Street banks, are intended to aid communities that have lost all of their bank branches.
Age UK has called for the UK to open more shared banking hubs to support older or vulnerable people who may struggle with online banking, as an average of 54 UK branches have closed each month since January 2015, while only four hubs have been opened so far.
When all bank branches have closed in an area, charities and consumer groups have urged for the faster implementation of banking hubs. This comes after Age UK’s research found that 27% of over-65s and 58% of over-85s rely on face-to-face banking.
Banking hubs, which offer counter services for major banks and have community bankers from different banks visit on different days of the week, often use Post Office spaces and the costs are shared between participating banks.
48 additional banking hubs have been approved for various locations in the UK, but setting up these hubs can take up to a year to find and set up a location. Banks have defended their reduction in branch networks, citing the increasing popularity of managing finances through smartphones and the reduced use of physical branches, which has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Age UK’s survey, people who were more likely to feel uncomfortable with online banking were over 85, female, on a low income, or more disadvantaged than their counterparts. Concerns about fraud and scams, trust issues, and a lack of computer skills were the main reasons for their discomfort.
Age UK reported that a greater proportion of people with an annual income of less than £17,500 mainly banked face-to-face (34%) than those with an income of £30,000 to £49,999 a year (15%).
According to a report by Age UK titled “You can’t bank on it anymore,” more branches have closed in poorer areas of the UK since the beginning of 2020. The charity stressed the importance of preserving physical banking spaces, stating that the last bank in a town should remain open until a hub is operational.
“We must recognize that a significant portion of older people, particularly the oldest age groups, do not use online banking. Even those who do still prefer the option of talking face-to-face with a bank employee for certain transactions,” said Caroline Abrahams, Director of the Age UK charity.
“The millions of people with limited access to the internet and those who rely on cash need to be protected by maintaining face-to-face banking services,” said John Howells, CEO of cash access network Link. He added that shared banking hubs provided by the banking industry are a popular and convenient solution to protect physical banking spaces.
Source : bbc.com