News agency, Sky News has obtained a copy of the ‘Access to Banking Protocol’ designed by the British Bankers Association (BBA) and the government. According to the Branch Closure Protocol, banks will have to provide 12 weeks’ notice of closures and publish assessments of the impact on customers. Starting from May 1st, banks will have to consider other branch alternatives and ensure if they do leave a community without bank access, including adding ATMs or working with the local Post Office to offer basic banking and payment products.
According to the document obtained by Sky news, “Banks will publish the results of their engagement and impact assessment, and the considerations taken into account in assessing the impact of the branch closure, subject to the removal of commercially sensitive information. While ensuring that customers are treated fairly, decisions on branch closures are ultimately commercial decisions for banks to take.” And there will be no way to force providers to reconsider closures if assessments find that vulnerable people will be adversely affected.”
While some banks in the UK, like TSB and Metro are promising to increase the size of their branch networks, overall the number of branches in the country is likely to decrease in the years ahead meaning that access for rural communities where branches are likely to be cut will become more important and while there is nothing holding banks to follow the protocol, it’s a good sign that banks will be proactive in ensuing access continues even if there is no physical branch nearby.
Overview by Tristan Hugo-Webb, Associate Director, Global Payments for Mercator Advisory Group
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