What is the future for rural banking services?
Published 11 May 2012 by Daniel Culpan
As more and more local bank branches face closure, a different approach to banking could offer a suitable alternative for getting the banking services you need.
As the internet and modern technology play an ever-greater part in modern society, increasingly changing the way we go about our day-to-day lives, it appears that rural banks in small communities are being left behind, the BBC reports.
Throughout the UK, more than 1,200 communities have lost their local bank branches altogether, according to the Campaign for Community Banking Services - a pressure group that is campaigning to save local banking services from disappearing.
Patrick Burns, the BBC's political editor for the Midlands, has commented that in this region alone, there are 15 local communities with only one bank branch left in the area, and 13 where there are only two branches still standing.
Campaigners have raised concerns that the demise of local banking services in small towns and villages could have a big impact on some of the more vulnerable sections of the local community - such as the elderly, the disabled or even those without means of transport - and potentially block them from accessing the banking services they need.
In response to this, campaigners have persuaded almost all of the major banks to sign a pledge not to close a bank branch if it's the last remaining one in town.
However, many banks have seen the number of customers using their branches steadily decline in recent times. A spokesperson for HSBC said: "We are seeing a significant drift of customer usage away from rural banking, with activity migrating to branches where customers work or do their shopping.
"Equally, customers are using branches for their cash requirements and carrying out more banking activities online or over the phone."
A spokesperson for thinkmoney commented: "Anyone concerned about the availability of local banking services might benefit from opening an online bank account. The thinkmoney Current Account, for example, comes with telephone, SMS, online and mobile banking, which lets customers manage their finances - from checking their bills to making payments - around the clock, without needing to go to a branch."
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