News Column

Banking RBS to upgrade some branches as others go

June 28, 2014

Jill Treanor

Royal Bank of Scotland is to spend pounds 1bn on upgrading its banking services to high street customers as it prepares to close more branches and bolster its digital banking operations.

In a presentation to City analysts, Les Matheson, the boss of the personal and business banking arm of RBS, refused to disclose how many more branches would be shut on top of the 100 already closed so far this year.

A year ago RBS had said the upgrade would cost pounds 750m, but it is now increasing the amount of investment that it is prepared to make.

RBS has 1,900 branches; already 315 of those are to be spun off into Williams & Glyn branches to comply with an instruction from the EU at the time of RBS's pounds 45bn taxpayer bailout.

When asked about the number of branches the 81% taxpayer-owned bank would end up with, he said: "Not the number we have today."

Matheson said 40% of transactions were now being conducted through mobile means and use of online and mobile technology had risen 200% in three years.

Although branches are to close, more than 400 are to be upgraded to include iPads and free Wi-Fi - an approach that rivals such as Barclays are already adopting.

More cash machines are to be put in railway stations, and more machines through which deposits can be made will be put into branches.

RBS shares were up 0.7% at 327p, but below the 500p average price paid by the taxpayer for its stake. Jill Treanor

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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