More than 600 banks have closed in the UK in the past 12 months according to figures obtained by the BBC. 3,000 branches have shut over the last decade which leaves around 8,000 now.  The changes have been driven by technology including internet and mobile banking meaning customer have easier access to banking services 24/7 which is location independent. A similar fate has happened to bookshops in Britain which havehalved in number over the past seven years due to the rise of e-books and the consumer downturn, research for The Daily Telegraph has found.  There has however been a resurgence in book shops in recent years with Waterstones successfully changing the format of their stores.  They how present themselves as destination experiences and often offer coffee shops so they become a place for people to relax and socialise.

A number of new banks are launching distributive business model that will offer all services through mobile and no access to a branch network.  Atom Bank became the first digital only bank in the UK claiming they will have fewer costs and be able to offer better rates for its customers. They look to simplify banking and make things more personal through digital.  This means setting up accords and accessing services can be done in the matter of minutes and you can even name bank what you want.  You can login using face and voice recognition is moments and have issues with having to remember password (this should also make the experience more secure).

Virgin Money are doing things differently and have created some remarkable branches.  The bank now has over 3 million clients and has been voted the most trust worthy bank in a recent survey.

“Virgin Money Lounges are a unique concept in UK banking – interesting, stimulating and, above all, comfortable places where customers and local communities can come together. Lounge visitors can choose to put their feet up and enjoy the facilities, use the Lounge for an informal business meeting or, if a customer decides they want to, they can undertake their personal banking.

The Sheffield Lounge takes the customer experience on offer elsewhere to a new level, offering a games area with two full-size ten-pin bowling lanes, table football, a pool table, air hockey and children’s play area. There is also a quieter floor featuring a library and bar area with complimentary soft drinks and refreshments, as well a specially commissioned steel sculpture from Yorkshire artist Anita Bowerman.”

There is plenty of opportunity for the challenger banks to make a big impact. If we start from a blank sheet of paper the possibilities are better as we don’t have to deal with the legacy issues that are now broken.

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