While other banks are closing branches, the UK's TSB has launched a staunch defence of the branch network, making its high street presence front and centre of its proposition to attract more customers from competitor banks.
The Lloyds' spin-off signed up half a million new customers last year and it argues that desire for a local branch remains the "biggest single factor" in consumers’ choice of a new bank account.
The bank has issued a policy document outlining its beliefs entitled 'Why branches matter in a digital age'
, detailing its plans to grow its 631-strong branch network, while continuing to invest in online and mobile channels.
In a foreword, chief executive Paul Pester comments: "The focus for banks shouldn’t be in deciding between branches or technology, but in investing in branches and the service they offer, alongside a first rate digital offer."
The bank, which completed 158 million mobile and online transactions in 2014, says that selecting between remote banking on the one hand and branch banking on the other is a "false choice", pointing out that more than half of its digital customers still pop into a branch to do their banking.
"Despite a growth in the number of customers using mobile and online banking to access their accounts and make transactions, branches remain the first point of call for purchasing financial services products," states the Bank. "TSB’s own research shows that 88% of bank accounts are opened in branch, while 71% of personal loans and 85% of mortgage applications still take place, in whole or in part, in a branch. When customers are conducting 'value-added' transactions of any description, where they want advice or discussion, branches remain as important as ever."
TSB is putting its money where its mouth is, with plans to refurbish 265 branches this year and open 30 new outlets in selected locations.
"In future TSB intends to ensure that it can provide its customers with a “best of both worlds” approach to branch and digital services so that it becomes the bank that truly enables customers to bank how they want, when they want and where they want," the document concludes.