UK banks are closing 60 branches a month as more consumers move online, according to research from consumer group Which?.
The consumer champion reveals that 2,868 branches have closed in the UK since 2015, or are scheduled to close by the end of 2018.
Which?’s research also shows that bank abandoment of the high street hase been accelerating since 2016. So far this year 670 branches have been shuttered or been scheduled for closure - putting 2018 on course to overtake the number of 2017 closures (879).
Looking at data from 2015 to the present day, Natwest has closed the most branches, with 638 having shut, or scheduled to close by the end of 2018. This is followed by HSBC (440), Lloyds (366) and RBS (350).
Although online banking and mobile apps are on the rise there are still many people who either cannot engage with these services or simply prefer traditional forms of banking, says Which?, pointing to the recent IT meltdowns at TSB and Visa as a sign that such systems are not infallible.
Which? money expert, Gareth Shaw says the closure of so many branches, combined with a withering of the ATM network, could leave the 2.7 million UK consumers almost entirely reliant on cash struggling to conveniently access their preferred payment method.
“Bank branch closures are happening at an alarming rate, stripping customers and communities of access to the financial services they need," he says. “While the decision is clearly a commercial one for a bank to take, it is also crucial that banks do recognise the needs of their customers and the communities they serve, before simply shutting their doors - and their customers out.”