Two small UK towns will open their Bank Hub pilot stores this month to banking customers who hold accounts with a range of high street banks.
One will open in Rochford, a small town situated in southeast England in Essex, whilst the other will accept customers in Cambuslang, a town on the south-eastern outskirts of Glasgow in Scotland.
The towns are two of nine across the UK to get one as part of a programme announced last June by the Community Access to Cash initiative.
The locations for the pilots were selected based on their ageing, cash-reliant populations. Particularly those where small businesses struggle to deposit cash locally due to the lack of bank branches.
Designed to operate as a shared facility, the pilot stores will perform both the functions of a Post Office, and those of major high street bank branches.
FinTech Futures reached out to UK Finance, the trade body behind the initiative, to acquire a full list of the bank customers this new hub will serve.
The Rochford store will support HSBC, Natwest, Lloyds, Barclays, and Santander customers. Whilst the Cambuslang store will support Bank of Scotland (BOS), RBS, Virgin Money, TSB, and Santander customers.
The Community Access to Cash Pilot also states individuals from Barclays, Santander, RBS (now NatWest), and Sainsbury’s Bank all sit on its board.
The seven other locations include Botton Village, Burslem, Denny, Hay-on-Wye, Lulworth Camp, and Milisle.
Road to national roll out
“Each day, representatives from a different bank will be available for face-to-face appointments to support with a number of different transactions/enquiries,” according to local news outlet YourSouthend.
This is in addition to a Post Office counter which customers can use to pay in and withdraw cash.
Starting out as a six-month pilot, HSBC local director Karen Collier – who heads up a team participating in the project – hopes this could one day be a UK-wide phenomenon.
Her team hopes “this becomes a permanent service for the Rochford community which could then potentially be rolled out nationally”. In January, HSBC announced the closure of 82 UK-based branches between April and September this year.
YourSouthend says the pilot will run until September. After which, UK Finance anticipates wider roll outs across the country.
According to the 2019 Access to Cash Review, some 9-12 million people simply won’t be ready for a branchless, cashless society when it inevitably arrives.
OneBanks, a Glasgow-founded fintech, is one such start-up trying to plug the gap these closures are leaving behind.
The start-up began piloting bank-agnostic kiosks in supermarkets across rural Scotland last year, crossing over with Denny – a location the Access to Cash team is also targeting.
Few other – if any – commercial firms have cropped up in this space since. OneBank’s kiosk consists of three ‘journeys’. The first allows customers to sit and sign up to online banking, OneBanks, and learn how to use the service.
The second is based on over the counter interactions, helping with services such as cash deposits, withdrawals, payments and transfers.
The third is a self-service ATM, primarily designed for businesses. Using OneBanks’ app, users can scan a QR code and immediately load their profile onto the screen ready to transact.
Two members of staff will run the kiosk. Its accessibility will align with the supermarket’s opening hours, which are 7am-10pm.