Banks need to reflect and respect their communities
ICAN now pay cheques into my bank account via my telephone! It’s amazing what new technology makes possible!
It’s very convenient, but this is exactly the kind of reason why fewer of us go into our banks nowadays, and the reason banks then give for closing their branches.
A quick totting up by journalists this week showed that 11 banks or building society branches had closed here on Anglesey in the past three years alone.
It’s had a major impact on our town centres, and on accessibility to face-to-face financial services and advice.
Nearly all of us take advantage of these technological developments to varying degrees, but I refuse to accept that this is a good enough reason for the banks to abandon the communities that contribute towards their profit-making.
I’d support regulating if necessary, to ensure that a certain level of access to services is maintained.
Yes, Post Offices can provide many services, but I’d also back the development of other financial hubs where people can have access to the wider array of services on a face-to-face basis.
Even more exciting would be the development of an indigenous Welsh system, perhaps allied to, or growing from, Banc – the Development Bank of Wales, as a ‘proper’ public bank, that could try to ensure a presence in all parts of Wales.
Another element being lost through the closure of branches is the ability to bank in Welsh.
We’re being encouraged to do our banking online, but that’s currently in English only.
In my branch, I almost always deal with staff in Welsh.
I’ve met a number of the main banks and tried to put pressure on them to develop their online banking services bilingually.
It can’t be very difficult! I remember as a young campaigner 25 years ago meeting the heads of Barclays in Wales asking them to make their cashpoints bilingual.
It was pointed out that this would be quite a challenge, if not impossible. Of course it wasn’t, and in a few years they were all bilingual.
I look forward to banking online in Welsh very soon.
It’s about banks reflecting and respecting the communities from which they make their money.
But they have to keep a physical presence here too, perhaps not the kind of presence that saw every bank having a branch on every high street, because those days are gone, but enough to ensure that the most vulnerable and those who most need face-to-face contact to help them stay on top of their financial affairs, are able to get it.
● Nearly all of us use technological developments but banks should not abandon communities