COMMENTARY

Restoring financial services to communities across the UK

Oct. 20, 2017 | by Ron Delnevo

illustration istock

In almost every country on the planet, bank branches are closing.

The U.K. is certainly no exception to this trend — in fact, it can be viewed as an extreme example of just how savagely banking services can be cut.

There are now fewer than 8,000 bank branches in the U.K., or roughly one for every 8,000 residents.

In Spain, they have one branch for every 2,000 residents.

Not good for the U.K. public — and it is only going to get worse.

Industry forecasts predict that by 2020, there could be as few as 4,000 bank branches serving — if that is the correct word — a U.K. population that will have reached 68 million by that stage. 

Put another way, only one branch for every 17,000 members of the U.K. public.

This dramatic fall in bank branch numbers has led to the creation of many "bank branch deserts," with numerous towns and villages left with no banking services at all.

The last time a number was quoted, there were more than 1,500 towns and villages in the U.K. without a bank branch.

That number is so disturbing that it is difficult to get updates on it any more — no one wants to give the public such terrible news — but by my reckoning, there are now more than 2,000 communities — real places, with real people trying to live their daily lives — without any meaningful local financial services touch points.

Without access to financial services, communities wither and die. Local people have to travel elsewhere to get their needs met, leaving shops and other businesses where they live without customers. Closures become inevitable, draining the economic life and social vitality from what were once thriving towns and villages.

In short, a desperate situation.

There are now loud complaints being heard from financially excluded communities all around our Island, demanding that convenient local access to banking services be restored.

What is the answer?

Smart ATMs!

Innovative ATMs can restore proper access to financial services to every community in the U.K.

Banks say they can no longer afford to operate staffed premises. The economics do not work for them. So be it.

Smart ATMs do not need bank premises or staff — or even to be operated by a bank. They can be located in shops and catering establishments, leisure facilities, public buildings — even churches.

Groups of these ATMs — community financial services hubs — can provide all the services previously provided by bank branches — and much more besides.

Video-enabled Smart ATMs located in privacy booths can allow private one-to-one consultations with mortgage, loan and pension specialists.

These experts would never have visited a small local bank branch, but Smart ATMs screens can bring them into every community in the U.K.

These community financial services hubs are not dreams. They can start to become a reality in 2018 and very soon spread around the U.K.; rapid expansion supported by brilliant innovations such as the LINK universal ATM cash deposit transaction.

This transaction will allow cash to be deposited at any hardware-enabled ATM in the U.K. No longer will the public and businesses have to search for a branch of their own bank in order to deposit cash. Convenient cash deposit facilities can be located in every community, courtesy of Smart ATMs.

Smart ATMs can put the financial services industry back where it belongs — delivering local services, to local people and no longer apologizing for closures, but instead, proudly announcing the launch of something every community can have — their very own financial services hub.


Topics: ATM Innovation

Companies: ATM Industry Association (ATMIA)



Ron Delnevo
Ron created the U.K. IAD Bank Machine in 2003 and led the company until 2012. In March 2014, he took up the role of executive director for the ATM Industry Association in Europe. Ron has a special focus on supporting choice in payment methods.

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