With the decline in high street bank branches and the rise in mobile-only banks, branchless banking seems to be the way of the future. Could you be convinced to give it a try?
Only a few months into 2017 comes the announcement from big high street banks that 141 more branches have shut, or will shut this year.
Meanwhile, we’re witnessing the rise of branchless firms like Atom Bank, Monzo and Revolut, which can only be accessed using a smartphone app.
Where do you stand on the mobile banking ‘revolution’? Late last year, we ran an online survey of 9,076 Which? members – it suggested that more than half of under-40s would be happy to open a mobile-only account. However, this figure dips dramatically for those aged 40 and over.
The pros and cons of mobile-only banking
Earlier this year, Atom Bank launched a range of highly competitive savings accounts in an attempt to lure customers. The move suggested that better savings rates could prove to be a key advantage of branchless banking.
However, the resulting rush of desperate savers reportedly caused its smartphone app to crash.
At times like these, the drawbacks of having no in-branch customer service becomes painfully obvious. Although many savers could be happy to sacrifice face-to-face service for better interest rates, this error reportedly meant that some couldn’t even apply for them.
Would you give mobile banking a try?
Previous Which? research revealed that the major banks closed over 1,000 branches between January 2015 and January 2017.
‘I am very upset at the closure of my local NatWest, I’m not happy to do online banking. I’m a senior and have been with NatWest for forty odd years. This closure is going to make life doubly difficult for me, I prefer the human touch.’
Here’s what Stuart L had to say:
‘Yes, internet banking and the ‘hole in the wall’ does obviate some need for branches, but when there is a problem or you need to pay in – especially coins – a long journey is inevitable. The banks (AND Building Societies) MUST stop and think again. Shared facilities, part-time branches in stores, mobile banks should all be on the agenda.’
However, Wavechange would consider other options:
‘Apart from visiting my bank a couple of times to set up a large payment, the only times I have visited my bank in the past year have been to deposit cheques, sometimes just posting them through the letterbox. I would be happy to use an ATM to do this if the facility was provided. I do appreciate that some people want to keep their bank branch and my branch is usually busy when I have been into it or walked past.’
Yet, the latest branch closure figures suggest that financial firms are continuing to push their customers towards mobile or online banking.
What would it take for you to get on board with mobile banking? Could you ever be comfortable completing financial transactions through your smartphone? Do you already use mobile-only banking and, if so, what’s your experience of it like so far?