Barclays is adapting its physical footprint in response to declining customer branch usage, opening semi-permanant banking pods in locations with high footfall, including shopping centres and retail parks.
Barclays already has the largest network of alternative branch formats - Barclays Local - with 200 opened by the end of 2022. The bank says it will open an additional 70 in the first half of 2023.
Under this model, the bank works with local councils and communities to arrange a presence in places such as town halls and libraries, offering in-person banking support. Barclays Local staff provide face-to-face assistance, alongside free digital skills workshops and fraud and scams awareness events for the community.
Currently, the format offers a way of remaining in places where there is no longer enough demand to support a traditional branch. The model will now be expanded and introduced into areas without an existing Barclays presence.
Barclays is also launching banking pods as part of its Barclays Local service. The semi-permanent structures provide a dedicated, private space in locations with busy footfall and can be moved depending on demand. At least 10 will be rolled out across the UK by summer 2023 following the success of the bank’s first pod in St Austell.
In addition, six electric vehicle (EV) banking vans will be added to the existing fleet of 10, enabling Barclays to reach customers in remote locations.
Barclays shuttered 178 branches last year and made its first commitment to trim 15 more from its physical network earlier this month. By the end of 2023 Barclays will have closed 1,001 branches since 2015.
Jo Mayer, head of everyday banking at Barclays UK says the bank is committing to keep an alternative in-person presence in communities* where it closes a branch, building on its existing programme.
“As visits to branches continue to fall, we need to reimagine where and how we show up to provide the best service for customers now and in the future," she says. "Our new banking pods and community pop-ups help us to tailor our in-person support for each location, including support with digital skills. In areas where we close a branch, we will maintain our presence in that community offering an alternative face-to-face solution.”
Under initiatives to protect long-term access to cash, Mayer says Barclays will grow its ‘Cashback without Purchase’ service, which enables consumers to withdraw cash for free, via thousands of small businesses across the country.
Barclays is also one of the driving forces behind the Cash Action Group (CAG), including industry Banking Hubs- a shared space for the major banks to operate from one day each per week.