Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, this research examined the variety of alternatives to traditional bank branches. It explored how people who do not have a local bank branch currently conduct their banking and financial business, looking particularly at the needs of customers who may be less mobile, and of small businesses and community organisations.
In fact, only one out of ten people said that they found access to their branch difficult, despite the fact that they lived more than one mile from the nearest branch in urban areas or more than four miles in rural localities. The great majority of people were happy with their chosen method of doing things, although a significant minority would have preferred more local facilities, particularly for drawing cash and paying in money. And only 11 per cent of businesses and other organisations said it was difficult to reach their branch, despite being more than one mile from the nearest branch in an urban area or more than four miles in a rural one. But although the great majority of individuals and businesses did not seem to face difficulties as a result of being in areas distant from a branch, for a small minority the problems were real and could be acute.
A number of options for providing banking services in communities were considered. These included some methods which already exist, such as remote ATMs, agency agreements with the Post Office, and banks in supermarkets, as well as some which could possibly be developed, such as shared branches, community banks, and partnerships with local authorities.