AFP, Published on Monday, April 04, 2022 at 2:04 pm.
Two years after the last bank closed in Denny, a town in the south of Scotland, its 8,000 residents have openly welcomed the installation of a kiosk that allows them to carry out their most basic tasks.
One counter, one ATM, two tablets and two advisors: The OneBank startup’s kiosk set up in a co-op supermarket represents an alternative to traditional agencies at a time when they are teeming with vengeance, internet hunting and cost hunting.
Donna Corrigan, 40, shows a heavy box of coins to deposit into her account. Behind the plexiglass counter, a counselor attaches handles of scrap metal to a machine while conversing.
Here, you can withdraw or deposit cash or pay your bills regardless of your bank, thanks to an application developed by the company. Real life consultants help even the less tech-savvy people with online banking.
When the banks in Denny’s closed, “you had to drive 20 minutes” to find an establishment nearby, says Ms. Corrigan.
Half of the country’s 10,000 agencies will disappear between the end of 2015 and 2022, and Scotland is the most affected region, according to the Consumer Union.
– addicts –
The rise of online transactions is prompting banks to cut corners on under-utilized banking networks. In the neighboring euro area, the number of branches fell by 20% between 2016 and 2020, according to the European Central Bank.
Some countries are more affected than others: in the Netherlands, 44% of agencies will be closed in this period, compared to 13% in France.
Yet the vast majority of the population is still entirely dependent on cash: around 20% in the UK, estimates a study by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), which describes an elderly, rural and peri-urban population .
In the neighboring town of Bridge of Allen, 5,000 residents, it is around noon and it is rush hour. The main street comes alive with customers who invest in restaurants, cafes, bakeries and shops. There is no bank in sight.
The last “closed about 4 years ago”, Jennifer Wilson, who runs a hardware store where 40% of business is still done in cash.
The manager can collect part of the receipts and make changes at the local post office. But it is often very busy and then he has to drive half an hour to get to Falkirk… where his bank too will soon close the Iron Curtain.
– “cold and sterile” –
“There were once “three banks” in this village that got used to online transactions but regretted human contact,” recalls Richard Kilborn, a 79-year-old resident. “Everything has become cold and sterile”. .
For the poorest people who don’t have a car, the problem is sometimes tougher: You have to take buses, even take vacations, cutting into income… a real vicious cycle.
British officials are now asking establishments to assess the impact of branch closures on consumers and potential choices.
Major banks such as Barclays, HSBC, Lloyd’s or NatWest recently agreed to fund options together, and LINK, the country’s main ATM network, is tasked with assessing situations on a case-by-case basis. has gone.
A number of options have been tested, including kiosks like Denny’s, but also improved post offices set up on post office group premises, withdrawals from merchants or even two “banking hubs” that serve as main establishments in the country. Look at the bankers. Welcome customers in turn during the week.
Given the success of the pilots, five new “banking hubs” have been announced and OneBank, which currently has three kiosks in Scotland, is planning to set up fifteen more in the country.
The startup plans to expand internationally. The banking desert is “a global problem”, argues founder and owner Duncan Cockburn. “Cash usage will continue to decline, but it will take a long time for it to disappear completely”.
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