June 27, 2014 / 11:07 AM / in 4 years

RBS invests $1.7 billion in online banking, branch upgrades

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland will invest over 1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) over the next three years to make it easier for customers to bank when they are on the move and offset a decline in branch usage.

The bank said on Friday it planned to improve online and mobile banking services, upgrade branches with new technology including iPads and install more automated teller machines (ATMs) in railway stations.

The move is part of the bank’s reaction to a decline in customers using its branches and growth in those banking online and via mobile phone applications.

Les Matheson, RBS’s chief executive for personal and business banking, said over 400 branches across the UK would be fitted with new technology including iPads so that customers can register and access online banking.

Customers will also get free Wi-Fi access to use their own digital devices in branch.

“Our customers’ needs are rapidly changing, they want to bank day-to-day in the most convenient ways available. We must respond to their needs and continue to improve on the service we offer both online and on mobile,” he said.

Chairman Philip Hampton told shareholders at RBS’s annual meeting on Wednesday that branch transactions had fallen by 30 percent over the past three years while online and mobile transactions had risen by 230 percent.

RBS, which currently has about 1,900 branches, said in April it would shut 44 branches and Hampton said it was inevitable that more would close.

Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Sophie Hares

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