02 December 2015

RBS goes mobile with new wheel-based branches

28 April 2014  |  5841 views  |  5 Bank on Wheels 1

There's more than one way to mobile bank. RBS has spent £600,000 on five new vans kitted out with iPads which will travel the UK bringing financial services to remote communities.

The first mobile bank branch was introduced in 1946 on the Isle of Lewis for crofters who were too busy weaving tweed to make it to the main town, Stornoway.

In recent years physical branches have been closing as people turn to another type of mobile banking. Earlier this month RBS said that it will shut 44 branches across the UK, blaming a 30% fall in in-store transactions over the last few years for its decision.

That decision came despite the 81%-owned taxpayer-owned bank specifically pledging to stay open for business if it is the last provider in a town in a 2010 'customer charter' designed to rebuild public faith in the wake of the bailout.

One alternative to expensive, rarely used permanent branches in isolated parts of the country is mobile van banks. RBS and its NatWest unit now have 18 vans on the road at any one time, visiting 357 communities and covering 7000 miles each week.

The five latest additions to the fleet do away with traditional counters and glass screens, and the staff no longer need to call up the home branch to get a customer's account balance. Instead a satellite dish on the roof means that wherever the van goes customers can log in to their account using the mobile van's iPad.

Jane Paterson, who is in charge of rolling out the new vans, says: "The satellite means that even in areas where there's no normal broadband coverage, customers will be able to take advantage of online banking."

Comments: (5)

Joss Wilbraham - WMG Consultants Ltd. - Oxford | 28 April, 2014, 15:23

Seriously, how can the re-launch of a service that is over sixty years old be considered to be progress worthy of an announcement? 

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Steve Ellis - Metia - London | 29 April, 2014, 07:59

Joss: I think there's a very - very - understated sense of irony at play here.

A first world country, and an industry that isn't shy of talking up its appetite for innovation, still needs a sixty year old, diesel powered solution to get the job done in some circumstances?

Then again, I may be wrong, the NatWest vans might make an appearance at the Future Money event tomorrow...


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Dan Barnes - Information Corporation - London | 29 April, 2014, 14:08

Van-based iPad interface. That's embracing change.

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A Finextra member | 29 April, 2014, 16:14

So we are now seeing 'drive through branches' previosuly used in the 1950's resurrected by Metro and 'semi high tech' vans being employed by RBS. If you can make historical options work in todays market why not. In some peoples eyes (The Treasury Select Committee) these will be seen as great news and a justification for their campaign to retain cheques.

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Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 30 April, 2014, 15:40

Great move. Resonates with initiatives by other industry players (e.g. ICICI Bank) to use MobilePOS, Tablet and other technologies to literally take banking to the customer's doorstep. 

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