* Internet used for nearly 1 bln stg transactions/day
* Banking apps downloaded more than 14.7 million times
* BBA says branches remain integral to retail banking
* Banks looking to automate more within branches
(Adds comments on changing use of branches)
By Matt Scuffham
LONDON, July 8 Britons are using Internet and
mobile banking for transactions worth nearly 1 billion pounds
($1.7 billion) a day and branch use is falling sharply,
according to the British Bankers Association and accountancy
In response, banks are expected to close more unprofitable
branches while they invest in mobile and online services for
customers who want to bank while on the move.
Internet and mobile banking is now used for transactions
worth 6.4 billion pounds a week in Britain, up from 5.8 billion
last year, the report showed. Banking apps for mobile devices
have been downloaded more than 14.7 million times - up 2.3
million just since January - while Internet banking services are
typically receiving 7 million log-ins each day.
Royal Bank of Scotland said last month it was
inevitable that it would close more of its 1,900 branches after
branch transactions fell by 30 percent over the past 3 years.
Barclays, Lloyds and HSBC are also
expected to close branches, according to industry sources.
The Campaign for Community Banking Services, a lobby group,
has warned that further closures could have a damaging impact on
rural communities that rely on local branches for banking
services and called for measures such as branch sharing to avoid
the last branches left in a particular area being shut down.
But the BBA said branches would remain integral to banking
in the 21st century. It said 2,274 bank branches had been
refurbished in the past two years, underlining banks' commitment
to their high street outlets.
"Day-to-day branch use is falling sharply and while the size
of these networks will decline, high street outlets will remain
important for those bigger moments, such as when a customer
takes out a mortgage, wants to assess their financial options or
resolve a complaint," the report said.
Banks are looking to automate more basic banking services
within branches, such as withdrawing and depositing cash and
paying bills, freeing up staff to focus on offering advice. But
Paul Adams, chief executive of Glory Global Solutions, which
provides self-service machines for bank branches, said British
lenders have yet to fully grasp the opportunity provided by new
technology to improve customer experiences.
"New technology allows and permits branches to be more open
plan in the way they are presented. There is an opportunity here
with some of this technology to really drive up the services
provided to customers," he told Reuters.
RBS said last month that over 400 of its branches across
Britain would be fitted with new technology including iPads so
that customers can register and access online banking.
Industry sources say a surge in the popularity of mobile
banking applications is the main driver behind the rise in
digital transactions. One senior banking executive told Reuters
the growth in mobile transactions has been "phenomenal" over the
past two years. Consultancy Juniper Research expects the number
of customers using mobile phones for banking to exceed those
banking via their personal computer for the first time in 2019.
The BBA report also forecast spending on contactless cards
would rise to 6.1 million pounds a week this year from 3.2
million in 2013.
($1 = 0.5877 British pounds)
(Editing by Louise Ireland and Sophie Walker)