Bringing banking to the supermarket shelves

If rumours that Barclays is planning to open branches in Asda stores prove true – and successful – its rivals may follow, says Kate Hughes

First the supermarkets started selling financial products; now it seems banks are moving into the aisles, with last week's rumour that Barclays is planning to close a quarter of its branches in favour of 400 new branches in Asda stores.

Barclays denied the reports, simply reaffirming its longer-term plans to move away from traditional banking in light of the growth of mobile and internet banking. Even so, the rumour has provoked a media storm days before Barclays opens four branches in Asda stores in a trial.

The idea is to offer customers banking facilities that better fit their lifestyles and requirements and is popular in the USA and a number of other countries around the world.

But this strategy has been tried in the UK before and failed spectacularly, with the HSBC, the Post Office and Lloyds having made similar forays with WH Smith, Morrisons and Asda respectively. All those facilities later closed.

But that was more than a decade ago and both personal banking technology and consumer banking behaviour have evolved dramatically since then.

"If supermarket-based branches can deliver more convenient opening hours for those who work weekdays, as well as increasing the ease of access for customers by utilising supermarket car parking, then maybe customers will be inclined to visit their branch on a more regular basis," says Matt Sanders, banking spokesperson at Gocompare.com.

"With Tesco also possibly planning to have their own banking service in supermarkets, this could signal the future of banking," suggests Jafar Hassan, personal finance specialist at uSwitch.com.

"It would also be an interesting sign of the times and further confirmation of a self-serve culture. Life and time is pressured and people want time-effective banking."

If the move proves popular and more big names line up next to the check outs offering a range of banking services, supermarkets with rival banking products may be faced with a significant dilemma.

Almost 70 per cent of consumers believe they get good customer service from supermarkets and retailers, compared with less than 40 per cent who think the same thing of traditional high street banks.

And when it comes to value for money, research conducted by uSwitch.com in 2012 found fewer than one in 10 people thought banks "delivered" compared with more than half who said the same thing about supermarkets and retailers.

However, Brian Brown, head of insight for financial research company Defaqto isn't so sure.

"Banking can't get any more expensive for consumers, so banks need to strip costs out of operations, and this is one option," he said. "But these branches will be much more restricted and there's no way that supermarkets will let them have a full-scale branch in store [to rival their own products]. Not only that, but most supermarket customers do their shopping on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening, and just 15-20 per cent are there during banking opening hours.

"There is a convenience for older customers, but I can't see it happening in every store," he adds. "And what's the point of keeping branches open when everyone banks online?"

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk