Banks to open tiny ‘pods’ in car parks as high street branches close

New “banking pods” are to be set up in car parks, shopping centres and libraries to make it easier for customers to do their banking face-to-face. Barclays says it plans to open 70 of the pods and is working with local councils to identify the best sites.

The move comes just days after the bank announced it will close 15 more of its High St branches – taking the tally of closures across British lenders to more than 100 so far this year.

Sites in London, St Helens and Bridgwater are among those facing the axe with closures to happen by the first week of May.

This is in addition to 15 closures Barclays announced at the beginning of January.

Last week, Natwest said 23 of its branches would be closed, an announcement that came after news of 40 planned closures from Lloyds and Halifax.

More than 5,000 bank branches have been shut in the past eight years, according to the consumer group Which?.

The banks and building societies say customers are increasingly shunning branch visits as cash use declines and most transactions can be done online. 

Lloyds said the number of customers visiting the branches it plans to close had dropped by 60 per cent on average over the last five years.

But the move hits elderly customers who seldom use internet banking or shop online, as well as small businesses wishing to deposit cash.

It also makes setting up accounts and other big transactions harder, especially for rural customers as nearby as towns lose branches.

The Daily Express campaign Save High St Banks is leading the battle against the closures.

The Barclays’ pods are semi-permanent structures which can be moved to different sites depending on demand.

At least 10 will be rolled out across the UK by summer 2023 following the success of the bank’s first pod in St Austell in Cornwall.

Jenny Ross, of Which?, said: “It’s vital that new legislation protects free access to cash for the millions of people who rely on it.

“The Government must guarantee minimum levels of access without fees being charged and give the Financial Conduct Authority powers to oversee the cash system to ensure it meets community needs.”

Jo Mayer, the head of everyday banking at Barclays UK, said:  “Our new banking pods and community pop-ups help us to tailor our in-person support for each location, including support with digital skills.

“We are maintaining our community presence with alternative options for customers who still require in-person support. 

“This includes our network of Barclays Local sites in libraries and community centres, bank pods and mobile vans, our cashback without purchase service, Shared Banking Hubs and everyday banking at the Post Office.”


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