Lloyds Banking Group is further shrinking its physical banking presence by closing its ‘mobile banking’ operation, which provides banking services to towns and villages via vans.
The financial institution – which runs Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows banking brands – explained that the mobile banking division was being closed due to the number of customers using the service declining.
Lloyds’ mobile banking service saw vans travel to different locations across the UK, largely those with limited access to physical banking due to local retail branch closures.
Vans would visit set locations at set times in the week, and would usually follow a route – for example, a route in Derbyshire covered the towns of Staveley, Bakewell, Winkworth and Clay Cross.
In statements published on its website, with a separate statement released for each mobile branch location, Lloyds has ‘been looking at how customers are using our mobile branches’.
This has seen the group come to the conclusion that ‘many are using them less and choosing other ways to bank instead’. The bank is increasingly withdrawing its in-person services, shifting towards an online-focused product.
The changes are indicative of a wider shift from physical to digital banking services across the UK, a process which has seen many retail branches, particularly those in the smaller towns and villages where Lloyd’s service would operate, close down.
Lloyds, however, maintains that the mobile service was not worth the cost of running. According to the BBC, there has been a 90% reduction in the number of customers using the vans since 2018, and an average of just 14 customers served on average.
The company’s shift towards online banking is understandably affecting its workforce. Around 1,600 job cuts are planned, although the firm states that it will create 830 new roles in the online sector, meaning around 770 jobs will be lost.
This continuing decline in retail banking has become a cause of concern for some. The BBC quoted Which? Deputy Editor, Sam Richardson, who described Lloyds’ latest decision as ‘disappointing’.
“It highlights why we need strong regulator involvement, to ensure that alternatives such as shared banking hubs are more quickly rolled out, and then properly maintained,” he said.
Lloyds is not the only company to announce service withdrawals, however. Sainsbury’s recently announced the closure of its banking operation, whilst Metro Bank is reviewing its hours and Barclays has also closed the doors on many branches.
The Labour Party, the current UK opposition political party, has criticised such closures as a failure of the governing Conservative Party’s economic policies. Labour has laid out a policy of launching local banking hubs as a solution to this, with post offices at a potential location for such operations.