UK banks are to discontinue a branch-sharing scheme after an independent report revealed little public take-up of the service.
The analysis of the year long trial involving branches of Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and NatWest concluded that while the service had "undoubtedly been valued by the relatively small number of customers it attracted, it is difficult to see how its continuation could be justified by the banks".
The evaluation, carried out by Professor Elaine Kempson of the Personal Finance Research Centre, University of Bristol, showed that each branch had an average of just eight personal customers and one business customer using the service per day. This equated to an increase in total branch footfall of about five percent.
The pilot was also found to have impacted negatively upon the Post Office branches located near the pilot sites. The report found that "it was clear that the pilot had attracted a number of its users from people who had previously used the Post Office".
The pilot scheme was set up in response to public anger at branch closure programmes and was trialled in ten locations where there was only a single bank branch, and no other, within approximately five miles.
The British Bankers Association says the current pilot will continue until 31 December 2003 to give customers sufficient time to consider alternative arrangements.
Ian Mullen, chief executive of the BBA says: "Banks are constantly looking at ways to meet the needs of their customers but despite much publicity to all eligible customers there was a lack of take up under the scheme."
The Yorkshire Building Society and Britannia currently operate a branch sharing programme under the MutualPlus brand. The service - through which the four million customers of either Society are able to make simple transactions at each other's branches - has been actively marketed to other building societies but has yet to attract any new participants.