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Stay of execution for RBS branches and free devices for some customers

RBS is offering free training and devices to some customers in Scotland to help them eventually live without bank branches

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The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is providing a package of digital support to some Scottish communities to help them cope with the gradual loss of local bank branches.

The offering, which includes training for customers and provides them with banking devices, will see RBS keep open 10 Scottish branches, previously planned for closure, open until at least the end of the year.

In the meantime the bank is helping some Scottish communities move to digital banking services, with free digital devices and training offered in some communities where branch closures will cause difficulties.

“We will give free digital devices to a small number of high-use, regular branch customers affected by branch closures, who have no access to a nearby branch where they can bank online,” said an RBS statement.

RBS is also harnessing its team of in-branch tech support staff to help people with the adoption of digital banking channels and attempting to ensure customers can get good broadband connections.

“We will also ensure access to training if necessary from its TechXperts in local areas affected, as well as work with BT and other local partners to explore improving broadband options in these local communities.”

In February 2017, RBS announced it would have about 1,200 so-called TechXperts in branches by the end of April 2017. They inform customers about the services they can get outside branches, as well as offer support. 

Read more about the move to digital banking

The bank also said at the time that it would provide digital skills training to around 10,000 NatWest and 1,500 RBS branch staff.

In theory, as branch closures continue, there will be a tipping point for all customers in that when the nearest branch is too far away they will try out digital channels and quickly become converts. RBS’s digital support is an effort to make this a reality.

Banks have an excuse for closing branches in urban areas because people prefer digital channels, according to multiple reports. These reports also suggest people in these rural areas are less likely to use digital channels.

RBS’s strategy is a potential answer to the problem by giving more support to people in rural areas to get them using digital channels. This might include reducing the reliance on cash in some areas, improving connectivity and providing people with training and computer equipment.

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