Barclays boss hints at branch closures as customers go mobile

Barclays boss hints at branch closures as customers go mobile

Barclays chief Antony Jenkins has hinted that branch closures could be on the horizon as the bank bids to cut costs and take advantage of customers' growing enthusiasm for mobile services.

Speaking as Barclays reported its third quarter results, Jenkins highlighted technology as the key to cost cutting efforts at the bank and promised that a major share of its planned 'cost to achieve transform' investment will go on "industrialisation and innovation".

Over two million Brits now regularly use Barclays' retail banking mobile service, while the Pingit payments app has over a million registered users, 25,000 of which are small businesses.

Meanwhile, the bank has seen an 8.4% reduction in the volume of calls to its contact centres, while almost half of all consumer lending last month was transacted by customers without visiting a branch.

"The implication of this shift is that the traditional branch model and other points of contact will become less important to customers as part of the service mix over time. And that in turn represents a significant opportunity to save cost," says Jenkins.

Jenkins also says that "huge swathes of activity" in areas such as trading, lending and servicing have the potential to be automated, cutting costs and removing the risks of human error.

Although he avoided discussing the implications for bank staff yesterday, earlier this year Jenkins opined that as many as 40,000 of Barclays 140,000 employees could be axed over the next few years as banking services become increasingly automated, with clear consequences for the 1500-strong branch network and call centres.

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