Mobile banking service on offer as branch closes
NATWEST has closed its doors for the final time in Aberdare, but the bank says there will be a limited mobile service in the town.
It comes after the store on Victoria Square reduced opening hours in 2016 before announcing its full closure in March.
The mobile service – a Bank on Wheels – was secured after Cynon Valley AM Vikki Howells met NatWest representatives in April.
According to Ms Howells, NatWest gave her two assurances: firstly, the bank would be replaced by a mobile service, with the time frame increased if there is enough demand, and that as a “goodwill gesture”, a mobile banking stop in Hirwaun would also be created with a six-month demand monitored.
It was also agreed that if NatWest could not sell the building within six months, it would explore how it can put it “to best possible community use”.
Ms Howells said: “It is disappointing that banks choose to reward the loyal customers who have supported them for so long by just closing and leaving them in the lurch.
“What makes this decision even more galling is that reassurances were given to politicians and the local community when opening hours were reduced that the branch would stay open to meet the needs of its customers. It seems like reducing opening hours is the first step on the road to branch closure.
“The last thing anybody wants is an empty town centre building. I am pleased with the commitment from NatWest that if they cannot sell the duration, and building within six months, they will see how they can put it to the best use of local residents.”
Ms Howells said she was told the mobile bank would be in place from 12.30pm until 1.30pm on a Friday in the town, and that would be doubled to two hours if demand was sufficient, although information was not given about the exact location of the service.
In addition, Ms Howells was promised it would add a stop in Hirwaun.
There was a mobile banking service for NatWest in the village previously but this stopped due to low use and Ms Howells suggested that was because it was on the wrong day – when the library wasn’t open.
The Hirwaun stop was a goodwill gesture by the bank and will initially last for six months.
When it announced the closure in March, the bank said that between 2010 and 2015 mobile and online transactions had increased by more than 400% and mobile transactions alone have increased by 1,350%.
The other outlets in Wales to close include NatWest branches in Ystrad Mynach, Ebbw Vale, Monmouth and Pontypool.
A spokesman said: “We have seen a dramatic shift in the way our customers are choosing to bank, with more using mobile and online over traditional branch counters.
“Simple transactions undertaken in branch at NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland have fallen by 43% since 2010, while online and mobile transactions have increased by more than 400%.
“Since 2011 we have seen the number of transactions in the Aberdare branch decline by 31% and in Ystrad Mynach by 26%. These customers are actively choosing to bank in different ways, with 62.4% of customers of the Aberdare branch choosing to use our digital banking options.”