Forget Brexit the last bank in town leaves in March

Aldeburgh is served well by a butcher (Salter & King: @salterandking), a baker (Two Magpies Bakery: @2magpiesbakery) and you can probably get a candlestick from MCT Electrical if you wanted one.

In the past the town has also be served well by the bankers but HSBC (@hsbc) left town a while back to be replaced by an ice cream parlour and, in March, Barclays (@barclays) will leave town.

The last bank in town will have exited stage left.

The Ice Creamery Aldeburgh (previously HSBC)

As Britain faces Brexit, Aldeburgh faces the double whammy of no ‘bricks and mortar’ banking and, perhaps, the added indignity of a national coffee chain taking over the building.

As a Barclays customer of 34 years this April do I, or should I, care about the last bank in town closing?

It is true that every time I pass the bank I have good memories from 18 years working for Barclays and a sense of pride from seeing the Current Account Switch Guarantee logo proudly displayed in the window (I was responsible for the UK’s current account switch service for almost 5 years).

But good memories and a sense of pride is not enough because, if I am honest, I don’t care if my bank, or even the last bank, in town closes.

Of course I need to be able to manage my money effortlessly, make payments easily and make sure people can pay money to me efficiently but do I really need a physical presence on the high street from a bank to do this?

Over the last (almost) two years I’ve proved that online banking is not just an alternative to ‘bricks and mortar’ banking but a much better way of managing my money.

Barclays may have physically left town but I have not left Barclays (yet).

Digital ‘challenger’ banks have entered the market and I was an early adopter at Starling Bank (@starlingbank).

Starling Bank

Innovation and competition by both the established and new entrant banks is hotting up and just as Annie and Frank sang, banking in the UK will be a case of ‘Anything you can do (I can do better)’. Hopefully.

In 2019 there is no need to physically visit a bank because digital banking is a reality:

– Bank online (or via a smartphone app) – 90% of adults in the UK are recent users of the internet. Check out your banks online or app based solution or try a new digital bank such as Starling Bank or Monzo (@monzo).

Post Office – 11,500 branches in the UK

– If you can’t get online use one of the 11,500 UK Post Offices to transact with your bank. There are more Post Office branches than the total number of all bank branches in the UK (7,586 bank branches in November 2018 according to Which?).

– Be bold and go cashless using debit cards, contactless and AppePay – it is easier than you think. Follow my ‘cashless experiment’ on Twitter: @_mike_chambers_

– If cash is your thing then use an ATM at the supermarket or other independent location (there are 70,000 ATMs in the UK).

– If you must pay in a cheque use the cheque imaging service on your banking app or pay the cheque in at the Post Office (@PostOffice)

– Pay your reoccurring bills with Direct Debit (@BacsUK).

It is true that anything you can do in a (physical) bank branch, you really can do better with a digital bank.

Whatever some might say banking is alive and well in the high street its just gone digital.

Twitter: @_mike_chambers_

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