How Much Will the Closure of Bank Branches Affect Consumers?
Last week Santander announced it was closing 140 UK branches, saying that “the way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels.”
YouGov carried out Custom Research using brand tracking tool, Profiles, into online banking usage revealing that almost one in five Brits still visit a branch monthly (17%).
Interestingly, this figure is slightly lower among Santander customers (15%) than the industry as a whole (17%). Over a quarter of Barclays customers (27%) and a quarter of Lloyds customers (25%) visit their bank at least monthly.
Just under half (48%) of Santander customers open the bank’s smartphone app in an average month (48%). This is some way short of banks such as NatWest, which sees almost two thirds (65%) of customers open the app each month.
Unsurprisingly, those who use physical bank branches are mostly older (32% are over 65) and retired (33%). This reluctance to bank digitally isn’t completely due to lack of access however; almost all own a mobile phone (93%) and three quarters have a laptop (75%).
Six in ten of those who visit their branch at least monthly say they find the pace of new technology overwhelming (60%) and 42% say they “don’t understand the decisions made by computers”. Over a third feel uncomfortable using online banking (36%) and the majority prefer to use cash when shopping (52%). In fact, aside from online banking over a quarter never make online purchases (26%).
Commenting on the research, Matt Palframan, Director of Financial Services Research at YouGov said: “Santander is not the first to close physical branches and it won’t be the last; the way people are banking is constantly changing. However, it’s worth remembering there will always be customers who prefer to go into their branch. The question is whether these customers are prepared to travel further or use alternative channels if their local branch closes.”