Luddite’s Guide to Making the Move to Digital Banking

Bricks and mortar banks are closing down at an alarming rate.

At the end of last year, RBS announced that it would be shuttering 259 of its branches across the country[1], while Lloyds said it was set to shut 48 branches at around the same time. This follows a slew of closures in 2016 and 2017, leaving some rural towns without a single bank branch.

Analysis by The Telegraph has estimated that between 700 and 1000 banks closed down last year[2], with many more closures to follow over the course of the year ahead.

In a way, this news is hardly surprising. While High Street banks and building societies were once at the heart of every UK town, they are rapidly being replaced by online banking and phone apps, as well as online-only challenger banks such as Monzo and Triodos.

Commenting on the large scale of the closures, an RBS spokesman said over the past three years the number of customers visiting branches had fallen by 40 per cent, while mobile transactions were up by 73 per cent[3].

These statistics have clearly convinced senior management that digital banking is the only way forward.

But for long-time customers, the idea of transitioning from physical to digital banking may seem a bit daunting – especially when it comes to making cash deposits, exchanging currency, or applying for a loan.

So we’ve put together a few tips on how to make the transition to digital banking as painless and easy as possible.

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Depositing cash

This is the most common concern among digital banking novices. However, there are a few ways to get around it.

All banks offer a remote ‘paying in’ service, where you can post your cash into the bank along with a paying-in slip. In some cases, the bank may even provide a pre-paid envelope so you don’t have to pay for postage charges.

If the idea of sending your cash through the post makes you feel a bit anxious, you may be able to deposit your cash directly at a local ATM, or via the Post Office.

Just be sure to check ahead beforehand to ensure that this is a service that is offered by your bank.

Depositing Cheques

Like cash payments, cheques can be deposited via the post or through an ATM, along with a paying-in slip. However, this is unlikely to be a problem for long as all banks are in the process of actively phasing out cheques[4].

Making a cash withdrawal

The easiest way to make a cash withdrawal is to simply visit your nearest ATM.

Most banks have entered into agreements whereby their customers won’t be charged to withdraw money from another bank’s ATM. And with more than 70,000 free to use ATMs across the country, you are unlikely to have to go far to find one near you.

Applying for a loan

The bank manager used to be the first person you called when you wanted to apply for a mortgage, a credit card, an overdraft facility or a personal loan.

However, all these actions can now be carried out online.

Just visit your bank’s website and follow the instructions on the home screen. In most cases, you should be able to find our whether or not you are eligible for a loan within a matter of minutes.

Exchanging currency

The currency exchange market has become incredibly competitive in recent years, and there are now a number of viable alternatives which could represent better value for money.

The Post Office is famously commission free, but better rates can sometimes be found online, via dedicated forex platforms.

It is also possible to use your existing bank card to make withdrawals from ATMs while you are abroad, but it is worth bearing in mind that each of these transactions will incur a fee.

Opening a new account

Any new account can be opened via your bank’s website or mobile app. And because banks actively want to encourage their customers to go digital, there are some great incentives on offer for digital banking customers at the moment.

By shopping around, you could earn up to £200 just for switching your current account[5]. Furthermore, the new Open Banking regulations mean it has never been easier to research rates and choose the best deal for you.

Transferring money

Most banks will allow you to transfer small amounts of money free of charge via their websites or mobile apps. For larger amounts (£250 or more), you may need to order a card reader from your banking provider – these are easy to use and offer an extra layer of security for your funds.

Making queries about your accounts

While once you would simply pop into your local branch to ask a question about rates, loans, or your savings; now you simply have to visit your bank’s website and click on the chat icon, or simply call the customer support helpline.

Ever since the global financial crisis, banks have taken their customer services very seriously, so you can be sure of a quick and detailed

[1] https://news.sky.com/story/full-list-of-natwest-and-rbs-branches-which-will-close-11151127

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/cashless-britain-local-branch-has-gone-now-goodbye-atm/

[3] https://www.ft.com/content/a0d15d28-a6d7-3aab-912b-9c348d1dbd98

[4] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/frequently-asked-questions-on-the-closure-of-the-cheque-system

[5] https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/compare-best-bank-accounts

Kathryn Gaw

Kathryn Gaw is a financial journalist based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has been writing about personal finance and investment trends for more than a decade, and her work has been featured in the Financial Times, City A.M., the Press Association, and The Irish Independent, among many other publications.