Belfast Telegraph

Further Ulster Bank branch closures blamed on online services

By David Elliott

Ulster Bank will reveal its plans to reduce the number of branches it has in Northern Ireland "in the coming weeks", according to chief executive Jim Brown.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Brown said the growing demand for online banking services would lead to the bank trimming its high street presence – which currently amounts to 75 branches.

"I think we will have less branches for sure," he said.

"We have by far the largest network in Northern Ireland – 50% more than anyone else – and the number of branches will reduce over time."

In summer 2013 Mr Brown announced that the total number of branches throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic would be cut to 175 from 214, but that figure may be breached.

"I think it could be slightly fewer," he said, adding that much would depend on customer demand. "We're not just closing branches to close branches."

He said new partnerships with other organisations, such as that recently announced with the Post Office, were likely, but again, much would depend on customer demand.

That demand is currently swinging toward online banking services with branches now accounting for only 16% of overall transactions. Contrasted with the fact mobile banking has jumped from zero to 25% of all transactions in only two years.

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