HSBC to close 69 branches

HSBC is closing 69 bank branches across the UK.

The move means that there will be an average increase of 0.3 miles travel distance to a branch for HSBC UK customers and the average distance to a branch for in-person contact will be four miles.

Following the closures, the bank will have a network of 441 branches, including: 96 full-service branches located largely within large cities and towns, 172 cash service branches, and 173 ‘counterless’ digital service branches, which facilitate traditional cash and cheque transactions via self-service tech.

The bank said it would be changing its approach to branches by adapting formats tailored to local communities.

The new approach will include community pop-ups, new integrated self-service machines, colleague-assisted digital support for customers, as well as continued use of the Post Office network.

“The way people bank is changing - something the pandemic has accelerated,” said Jackie Uhi, head of HSBC UK’s branch network. “Our branches continue to support people with their more complex banking needs, but the way we can do this has also evolved, with the addition of banking hubs, community pop ups and continued use of the Post Office network.

“Rather than a one-size fits all branch approach, it’s an approach built around the way different customers are choosing to bank in different areas.”

The bank said that under 50 per cent of its customers actively use its branch network, with the average footfall declining by more than 50 per cent since 2017.

While the bank said that the majority of its customers prefer to do “much of their day-to-day banking online or via mobile”, consumer organisation Which? raised concerns about the move.

“There has been an alarming number of bank branch closures in recent years, and many consumers who rely on banks to access cash for everyday essentials and face-to-face services will be concerned about what these latest closures mean for them,” said Jenny Ross, Which? money editor. “While many consumers now choose to bank digitally, millions of people are not yet ready or able to take that step. The banking industry’s proposals to protect access to cash must keep them in mind, and need to be underpinned by legislation.”

HSBC said that as part of its branch transformation programme, it will refurbish branches in key locations, open new integrated deposit and withdrawal cash-machines, offer customer tablet devices for vulnerable customers, start a customer outreach programme – via telephone and face-to-face – host digital education sessions online and in branches, run community pop-up events in local libraries and community halls, open standalone self-service machines for cash-dependent communities, and contribute to shared banking hubs, where UK banks have agreed to share services.

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