The big banks had all deserted the Essex market town of Rochford, with Barclays the last to shut in 2017.
It was not thought economical to keep full-time branches open in the town, which dates from middle ages times and now has a population of 8,400.
After that, cash might only be withdrawn from two websites– one ATM that charged 99p– and from a Post Workplace plagued by long queues.
Rochford helpers (l-r): Toni Jean-Baptiste of Natwest, David Szczepaniak of Lloyds, Frederic Easlea of Santander, Lisa Burton of Barclays and Alison Hoskin of HSBC
And to speak to somebody from their bank, the majority of households dealt with an eight-mile big salami to the nearest branches in Southend-on-Sea.
Now there could be a service. Rather than their bank having a 24/7 presence on the High Street, residents have been offered their local branches back for one day a week.
On Mondays, NatWest takes over the shared High Street branch, on Tuesdays it’s Lloyds, Wednesdays: Santander, Thursdays: Barclays, with HSBC on Fridays.
For Rochford is among two areas in the UK to test out a brand-new method of banking.
And these brand-new bank hubs in Rochford and Cambuslang, a town on the borders of Glasgow might be the future in small towns.
The job is developed to assist bank-barren neighborhoods at a time when more than 500 branches have actually been shut or are allocated for closure this year.
Plunging numbers of free-to-use cash machines are also adding to a cash crisis– with 3,900 shut because the pandemic started, according to ATM network Link.
The shared bank buildings in Rochford and Cambuslang also have a Post Workplace counter, where visitors can pay in cheques and change, withdraw cash and settle costs five days a week.
But the brand-new type of bank branch is not presently a perfect replacement for the genuine thing.
Dropping numbers of free-to-use atm are adding to a cash crisis
Santander staff can only help clients use ATMs, make transactions on their phones and speak with its telephone banking service.
But the bank will soon broaden its hub repertoire to include recovering lost passwords and usernames, reporting lost bank cards and establishing standing orders.
NatWest consumers have access to almost every service they would at a regional branch consisting of notifying the bank of a bereavement and undertaking a home mortgage arrangement in principal.
But they can not instruct a payment worth more than ₤ 20,000.
But Natalie Ceeney, who launched the Community Access to Money Pilots scheme, states more services are most likely to be added as the banks discover what the clients want through the pilot.
‘ We are wanting to learn what other services people desire so banks will comprehend how best to serve local people,’ she states.
On a midweek early morning half-a-dozen customers are queuing outside the structure, which was formerly a carpet store.
Inside, consumers can go directly to branch supervisor Richard Fleetwood for Post Office services.
They can likewise use machines to deposit cheques and money or talk to their own community lender in a private space.
Barclays consumer Heather Hartnett, 71, shows up holding a cheque she has had given that November. The retired bank employee was eliminated that she would no longer need to drive to Southend, because the journey aggravates her arthritis.
She says: ‘I might have gone to the Post Workplace, but I feel safer doing it in a branch– it feels more private.’
Later On, Natalie Robinson-Day, 50, leaves the center after depositing cash in her NatWest account. The mother-of-three states: ‘I discovered this when I saw it on Facebook– they were so valuable.’
The banks in the hub represent the biggest market share in the area. And it has currently drawn in numerous older customers.
Lloyds community banker David Szczepaniak, 21, states: ‘One gentleman in his 70s was available in after he locked himself out of his online account since he ‘d forgotten his password. I assisted him set up a new one and get back in.’
Homeowners also hope it will draw in more visitors to the town’s stores and weekly market. Butcher Jason Macaree, of J.Mac Meats, hopes the center will make it simpler to transfer takings.
Jason, 49, says: ‘I utilized to drive to Southend, now I will have the ability to go to the center more frequently and I won’t need to carry as much money around.’
If the six-month pilot achieves success, Ms Ceeney wants to roll out the centers across the country.
However a 3rd hub, which was set to open in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, needed to be ditched due to the fact that organisers might not find an appropriate place.
Advocate Derek French, a former bank executive, says the centers could be the ‘just option’ to help neighborhoods as branches close everywhere.
He adds: ‘People will need to show their assistance by going to these hubs in the next six months. I am concerned that people are still behaving in a different way throughout the pandemic and that some might keep away from them as an outcome.’
Neighborhood Access to Money Pilot efforts are planned to run in 8 locations across the UK.