Older Generations are Left Behind as Banks Leave the High Street

Seven banks have announced closures across the UK, including Two of the Big Four

At the start of January, seven bank branches announced closures of their high-risk banks. Of the seven, two of the UK’s four biggest banks announced a total of 94 would be closing their doors. 

A total of 189 bank closures were announced, with England being dealt the biggest blow, with a total of 142 branch closures to be expected. 23 closures are expected to occur in Scotland, 13 in Wales, and 13 to occur in Northern Ireland. 

As banks in the UK make the jump from physical banks to digital online banking, many of our less tech-savvy members of society are concerned that they will be left behind. 

Chums is a company that specialises in tailoring towards the mature market. They wanted to look into concerns about the banks closing as it is an issue which closely affects the older population. Chums spoke directly to some of these members of society to get their thoughts and concerns about the move to a more digital banking system.

Mr Coolter, a 74-year-old man from Lancashire, expressed his frustration with the banks’ closures, stating that three of his local banks have already closed their doors, with a fourth scheduled to close in the new year.

Despite reassurances that he would be able to access bank accounts through the online site or mobile app, Mr Coolter said that he struggles with online banking as he often forgets his passwords and cannot remember where he wrote them down. 

Another person who expressed concern was Mrs Lawrence, an 86-year-old Lady from St. Helens who explained that she struggles with any type of banking, having relied on her husband to handle her monetary affairs during her marriage until his death. Now, she relies on her son to help with her banking. Mrs Lawrence explained that she is often overwhelmed by technology and is grateful that her son is still able to help her. 

In Mrs Lawrence’s particular case, she can rely on a trustworthy family member. Having to rely on the help of others with online banking leaves many people in a vulnerable position, making it much easier for criminals and scam artists to abuse the trust of older people. 

Scams are a big concern for older bank users as there are many different ways that scammers can use this digital banking to their advantage. With online phishing and other forms of social engineering, criminals can gather a victim’s personal information and use it to take over a victim’s bank account by tricking the bank into believing the victim has changed their address. 

A third person, Mr William Harman (aged 78), spoke about how he struggled with the two-step verification process to access his online banking. He talked about how, even with guidance from family members, he struggled with what many would consider simple processes, such as making a one-time payment or setting up a direct debit through online banking. One situation he has struggled with was cancelling a direct debit to a business whose services he no longer required, and he said that despite various attempts, it took six months before he was finally able to cancel it. 

Circumstances like these are just a small example of growing concerns where many of our older generations are struggling with the fast evolution and increased reliance on online banking, and despite “alternatives” to the traditional high streets banks such as pop-up “Banking Hubs” set up by banks such as Lloyds and Halifax, it does little to reassure those who relied on the full-services of high street banks.

Other alternatives to physical banking include services offered by local Post Offices. However, you won’t be able to apply for a loan or open a new bank account. 

Another alternative is the mobile banking service that several banks have started offering, such as Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland. This service is where banks will bring a van or bus to your area and be able to offer all the services you can usually get at a physical branch. One downside to this service is that it relies on your availability during the times that the van/bus visits your local area.

Tatiana Rehmova

A glass half-full kind of a girl and a believer that everything happens for a reason, Tatiana works in Media Relations and is the Content Producer at Enhancv. She loves writing, spotting inspiring stories, and building meaningful relationships.