RBS to close 158 branches in UK
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has announced that it would close 158 branches in the UK, as more customers switch to digital banking.
While 30 RBS branches will be closed in Scotland, 128 NatWest branches will be affected across England and Wales.
The decision will affect nearly 925 employees of the lenders, leaving 472 full-time equivalent jobs at risk.
The latest branch closures are in addition to 86 announced late last year.
RBS witnessed a 43% decline in branch transactions since 2010, while online and mobile transactions surged by over 400% during the same period.
An RBS spokesman told BBC that the bank currently has 4.2 million customers who use its mobile app for banking transactions, up two million compared to the figure in 2014.
The spokesman was quoted by the publication as saying: “We interact with our customers over 20 times more through digital channels than physical ones. As customers change the way they bank with us, we must change the way we serve them," he said.
"The role of the branch is fast moving to a centre for advice, away from basic transactions. While the branch will still be a core part of our offering to customers, inevitably some branches will have to close."
UK’s largest trade union Unite has expressed anger over RBS plans, saying that the bank “is turning its back on the communities that have been the foundation of its business for generations.”
Unite acting general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Banks have a duty to the wider community and that is especially the case for banks like RBS that have large taxpayer-owned shareholdings.
“People like the face-to-face contact that having a physical presence in the high street provides. Pensioners, people with mobility issues, and those without internet access are being particularly hard-hit – especially in rural areas. Small businesses are also badly affected – especially those that rely on cash-handing.”
Image: RBS Building, 250 Bishopsgate, London. Photo courtesy of RBS.