Phone banking for students: NatWest experiments at universities

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The Independent Online
STUDENTS at eight universities will be able to do their banking by telephone next year, using free phones installed by National Westminster Bank.

They will be given plastic cards to swipe through the phones. They will then be put straight through to a central student branch.

The universities, in five towns and cities, are Aberdeen and Robert Gordon in Aberdeen, Essex at Colchester, Brighton and Sussex in Brighton, Teesdale in Middlesbrough and UMIST and Manchester University in Manchester.

NatWest already has a full branch in Manchester and a sub- branch open for a couple of days a week in Brighton. On the other sites it will be opening up the service in competition with existing student bank branches. At Essex University, for instance, Barclays runs a branch in the heart of the campus.

Students will be able to get cash from either a NatWest branch or nearby cash machine. NatWest customers can also use Midland and TSB machines.

The experiment will run for six months, but the bank expects it to be a success and to be extended to other colleges.

Students will be able to arrange an overdraft, order a cheque book or transfer funds over the telephone. To get cash they will have to visit a machine.

NatWest has not yet revealed its student package for this year. Last year it offered students an interest-free overdraft of pounds 400. It has the largest number of students on its books - 40 per cent of students opened NatWest accounts last year.

Barclays has 36 branches and 47 cash machines either on a student campus or within 200 yards. It employs 150 student business officers. There is a pounds 400 interest-free overdraft. Barclays' students pay 1 per cent over base for higher borrowings.

Students get a pounds 10 Our Price music voucher on opening an account plus another pounds 10 voucher, clock radio or sports bag for a successful Barclaycard application. There is also a triple card, which acts as a debit and cheque guarantee card, and gives 24-hour access to cash from 6,200 dispensers.

Lloyds has 70 college branches. It offers students a triple-action Payment Card that can be used at cash machines and acts as a pounds 100 cheque guarantee card and a debit card. Students are offered an interest-free overdraft of pounds 400. Lloyds' students get a free young person's railcard and commission-free foreign currency and travellers' cheques.

Midland has 36 campus branches, plus 104 within a mile of colleges. Last year it offered students a pounds 400 interest-free overdraft, a triple-action plastic card and a cash payment of pounds 15. It has not yet announced its terms for the coming year.

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