The Royal Bank of Scotland will open what is believed to be Britain’s first cashless bank branch next month in as the move towards online banking continues at pace.
The bank is to open at 49 Bishopsgate, London on November 20, replacing the branch at 62-63 Threadneedle Street, London, which is being closed on December 20.
The “digital bank” will remove the frontline cashier services in the store and will not have an ATM fitted, meaning customers will not be able to pay in and take cash out.
Instead, the branch will be used for other banking needs, including appointments to open Isas and other savings accounts as well as applying for mortgages.
Video banking, where people can book appointments to talk to bankers via video chat will be available, as well as staff to assist with online banking and “presentation space” for anyone to attend sessions on protecting against scammers and managing their finances.
RBS customers are able to use the Natwest located at 1 Princes Street, 0.3 miles from the new branch. For those wishing to use an RBS branch specifically, the closest is 40-42 Islington High Street, 2.4 miles from the new site.
A spokesman for RBS said: “More of our customers are choosing to bank with us using our app and online banking. For those customers who require cash, or our counter services, there are several free to use ATMs nearby.”
Natwest, a sister company to RBS, has launched three such branches already in Leeds, Manchester and Oxford although all have ATMs.
But Martyn James of consumer rights group Resolver, said although technology and digital banking is the future it is “vital” that it’s not at the cost of face-to-face banking services.
“As a nation, we need to speak up if we feel our essential services are being reduced or removed – because before you know it, they’ll have gone,” he said.
However, he added that the reduction of services branches in major cities, where there is already a plethora of banks, may not be a bad thing, if the cost saving goes towards more rural areas. Recent closures mean that more than 115,000 people now have no cash point in 130 postcodes, according to research from consumer group Which?.
The constituency of Wentworth and Dearne in Yorkshire, home to almost 100,000 people, became the first parliamentary constituency without a bank branch.
Towns and cities have lost a third of their branches in the past five years, with RBS Group the worst offender, removing 1,050 outlets, or 56pc of its branches between January 2015 and August 2019.
One solution has been the use of post offices, with many of the major banks striking deals allowing customers to use their local shops for banking services.
However, the offering between banks is patchy. Nationwide, for example, does not allow cash or cheques to be paid in.
Mr James said: “The obvious option is to allow the post office network to take over some of these services but they aren’t not there to replace bank branches and the Government needs to act to support them.”