Banking Hub Trials Extended

Government still in talks to retain access to local banking branches and hubs.

August 19, 2021
Banking Hub Trials Extended
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Ian Lewis

Written By

Ian Lewis

 

Trials of a shared banking hub in two communities are going to be extended, as the government continues to consult on plans to protect access to banking services for local customers and businesses.

The shared banks, which are operated by the Post Office, are located in Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire and in Rochford, Essex. They were due to close in October, but the trials have now been extended by another 18 months, running until April 2023.

BankHUB operations

The BankHUB branches work as shared hubs for different major banks, offering a variety of counter services for customers and for businesses. Often it is small businesses looking to deposit cash that make the most of the services. The hubs also have ATMs where customers can access cash.

The way that the BankHUB pilots work is that they are staffed by someone from a different bank on each day of the week. Throughout the week any customers can use the hubs for more straightforward transactions, while the specialist member of staff is available for some of the more complex services on offer.

In both Cambuslang and Rochford, all the major bank branches had closed, leaving customers with no option but to travel to nearby towns for their banking services. The new BankHUBs have so far proved a success, with around 12,000 customers using them for their basic banking needs so far.

It is really clear that the hubs have been hugely popular and it would be a bad decision to close them. The banks have therefore taken the view that they want to keep them open, and keep innovating in them so we can refine the model further.

The trials are part of a larger project that is looking at ensuring customers and businesses have access to the services they need.

Another element of the trial is the option for customers to visit local stores to take out cashback without having to make a purchase. Some customers are taking advantage of this to withdraw non-rounded sums, which they would normally be unable to do at an ATM. The plan is to roll this out to hundreds of more shops by early 2022.

Government regulations planned?

While banks are working together with those behind the schemes to look at options to provide services to customers, whilst still enabling them to cut costs by closing branches, the government is considering new laws that could prevent branch closures if it leaves customers without suitable banking facilities within a short distance.

Part of the consultation suggests that customers should not have to travel more than a kilometre from their home to withdraw or deposit cash, although that distance could then be increased over time if the use of cash by the public begins to decline.

The proposed regulations will also look at how suitable facilities are in terms of accessibility, ensuring that people with disabilities have no problems using their local services. Branch opening hours and security for high-value cash deposits are also being looked at.

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