‘Bank closures hit the elderly and vulnerable’

HSBC says it will give tablets to those struggling with new set-up

Friday, 8th April — By Nick Warren

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BANKS have been warned that not everybody can – or wants to – do their transactions online as another closed its branch in Hampstead.

HSBC will shut down its site in Hampstead High Street on September 27 – meaning its only cashier service will be on the edges of the borough in Tottenham Court Road and Kilburn as customers in the rest of its branches are faced with self-service machines.

Its Hampstead branch is one of 69 being closed across the country from July with HSBC citing an acceleration of mobile and online banking during the Covid pandemic.

Phil Wilson, 74, who uses the branch at Hampstead High Street, said customers would be hit, particularly elderly and vulnerable consumers who are reliant on over-the-counter banking.

“They’re putting profit before people. There needs to be balance,” he said. “They seem to have down-played news of the branch closures.”

Mr Wilson has been a customer with HSBC for almost 30 years, but said “HSBC and other banks seem to have an attitude of trying to push people into online banking” despite his belief that “older people need a community”.

HSBC said the average increase in travel distance caused by this closure would be only 0.3 miles and that the nearest available branch is in Finchley Road – one of the self-service sites.

“This is an evolution in our branches, and there will need to be a certain evolution in how our customers bank,” an HSBC statement said.

They added: “We are very conscious that there will be some customers who are less confident or comfortable using self-service options, and we would like to assure them that we will not be leaving any of our customers high and dry.”

The bank said that alongside an individual call to each customer they would, where appropriate, “provide vulnerable customers with a free computer tablet device and support them in building knowledge and confidence in using digital services”.

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