Which?, the research firm, has found that U.K. bank HSBC has closed more than a quarter of its branches in its hometown during the course of the last two years.
According to a report, citing the research from Which?, the closures are part of 1,000 closures of bank branches in total for HSBC. Since Jan. 2015, HSBC has reportedly closed 321 branches, which accounts for 27 percent of its bank network. Meanwhile, Co-operative Bank closed greater than half of its bank branches during the same timeframe that the HSBC branch closings occurred. Co-operative Bank is a lot smaller than HSBC. HSBC said in the report the bank closures are due to the fact that the lion’s share of its customers bank on smartphones or via the internet.
Despite that assessment from HSBC, Which? pointed out that, although 56 percent of adults do use online banking, there remains roughly 20 million people that don’t or can’t use online banking — in lots of cases because of spotty broadband internet connections. Which? found the areas most impacted by the lack of online banking are in South West England, Wales and Scotland, which are areas that are largely rural and, as a result, have less-than-reliable broadband internet connections. The report noted that Lloyds also unveiled plans to increase its plan to close banks in 2017, aiming to close around 200 branches. “Overall, footfall in our branches has fallen by over 40 percent, with 93 percent of contact with the bank now completed by telephone, internet or smartphone, plus 97 percent of cash withdrawals are made via an ATM,” said an HSBC spokesperson in the report. “When we do make the decision to close a branch, our main priority is to ensure that our customers and their banking needs are catered for in the best way possible.”