<?xml encoding=”utf-8″ ??>
Barclays plans to launch a string of “banking pods” after recently announcing more branch closures.
The bank said it will expand its “flexible banking formats” in response to changing customer needs.
The plans include the launch of new banking pods, which will be purpose-built, semi-permanent structures in locations such as shopping centres and retail parks.
The pods will provide a dedicated, private space and can be moved depending on demand, the bank said.
At least 10 will be rolled out across the UK by summer 2023 following the success of the bank’s first pod in St Austell, Cornwall, Barclays said.
The bank has not yet revealed the locations for the pods, but it is understood they will be spread out, potentially popping up soon in areas such as London, the Midlands and the North East.
The pods are part of the Barclays Local initiative.
Under the scheme, which Barclays is expanding, the bank works with local councils and communities to arrange a presence in places such as town halls and libraries.
Barclays added that six electric vehicle (EV) banking vans will be added to an existing fleet of 10, further enabling it to reach customers in remote locations.
It will also grow its “cashback without purchase” service, which has created new locations for people to withdraw cash, free of charge, via thousands of small businesses.
The bank said it will continue to review its physical sites, including branches, pods and pop-up services.
On Saturday, Barclays revealed it will be shutting 15 branches, with NatWest and Lloyds Banking Group also recently announcing branch closures.
Jo Mayer, head of everyday banking at Barclays UK, said: “Barclays Local provides a flexible way to reach customers in new locations and retain a presence where customer footfall has reduced, bringing face-to-face support to convenient locations.
“As visits to branches continue to fall, we need to reimagine where and how we show up to provide the best service for customers now and in the future.
“Our new banking pods and community pop-ups help us to tailor our in-person support for each location, including support with digital skills.
“In areas where we close a branch, we will maintain our presence in that community, offering an alternative face-to-face solution.”
Barclays is also part of industry efforts to increase the amount of banking hubs, where different banks operate out of shared spaces.
Jenny Ross, money editor at Which?, said: “Cash remains hugely important for a significant minority who use it to pay for everyday essentials and keep track of their spending as the cost-of-living crisis goes on, yet banks such as Barclays continue to close hundreds of branches, making it harder for people to deposit and withdraw it.
“Proposals to plug gaps left by bank branch closures may well be part of the solution to protect access to cash, but must be rolled out in much larger numbers and far more quickly in order for people to feel their benefits.
“Such proposals must be backed up by long-awaited government legislation which should introduce guaranteed minimum levels of free access to cash so that people don’t have to pay to access their own money.”