With more people switching to online banking, top British banks have shut over 600 branches across the country over the past year, a media report said today.
Parts of Wales, Scotland and south west England lost the most per population between April 2015 and April 2016, according to figures obtained by the BBC.
Five of the top 10 areas losing banks are in Wales: Powys, Denbighshire, Gwynedd, Conwy, and Carmarthenshire.
The banks said that demand for branches was falling, as more people switch to banking online.
The data came from the big six High Street banks: Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), HSBC, Santander, Barclays and the Co-operative.
Over the last year, RBS closed the most branches – 166 – followed by HSBC with 146.
In total, about 3,000 branches have shut over the last decade, according to the Campaign for Community Banking Services, leaving around 8,000 now.
Aside from rural areas, many closures occurred in commuter towns, where customers are more likely to do branch banking near their place of work, or use telephone or online banking.
The seaside town of Birchington-on-sea in Kent has lost three banks in the last year, with the last branch due to close next month.
“We never take the decision to close branches lightly,” a spokesperson for HSBC said.
“The way we bank is changing very quickly, and with an increase in the use of online and telephone banking over the past few years, use of branches has fallen significantly,” he said.
Figures from RBS show that over-the-counter transactions have fallen 43 per cent since 2010. At the same time, online and mobile banking have increased four-fold.
“We review our branch network regularly to make sure the services we provide are appropriate for each local community, based on our customers’ usage and other ways to bank in the local area,” an RBS spokesperson said.
The British Bankers’ Association – which represents all the major High Street names – said transactions in branches were down 6 per cent over the last year.
On the other hand, there were about 9.6 million daily log-ins to online banking.
Basic banking is available at 11,500 branches of the Post Office, which offers a bigger network than all the High Street banks put together, the report said.