Hundreds of jobs will be lost following a decision to close almost 160 RBS and NatWest branches. RBS blamed a “dramatic shift” in banking, with branch transactions falling 43% since 2010.
In the same period, online and mobile transactions have increased by more than 400%. About 770 staff will be affected as 30 RBS and 128 NatWest branches are closed, but hundreds of workers will be redeployed.
An RBS spokesman said the bank now had 4.2 million customers who used its mobile app – an increase of two million since 2014.
“We interact with our customers over 20 times more through digital channels than physical ones. As customers change the way they bank with us, we must change the way we serve them,” he said.
“The role of the branch is fast moving to a centre for advice, away from basic transactions. While the branch will still be a core part of our offering to customers, inevitably some branches will have to close.”
RBS said it was creating two new roles. Community bankers will give customers personal assistance and support and focus on rural communities. There will be 50 such bankers across the UK by the end of this year.
The bank is also creating specialist roles for staff who will support customers with training and support with digital skills.
After the closures 151 RBS and 856 NatWest branches will remain.
RBS remains still majority-owned by taxpayers following its multi-billion government bailout almost a decade ago.
Unite union acting general secretary Gail Cartmail accused the bank of “turning its back” on the communities that have kept it in business for generations.
“Banks have a duty to the wider community and that is especially the case for banks like RBS that have large taxpayer-owned shareholdings,” she said.
“People like the face-to-face contact that having a physical presence in the high street provides. It’s time for banking regulators and government to intervene, to force banks to maintain an adequate network that properly serves communities across the UK.”