Could a bright pink kiosk in the co-op give us back our Main Street banks?
Could a bright pink kiosk in the Kilwinning Co-operative in Ayrshire give us back our main street banks?
The town of Kilwinning in Ayrshire has not had a bank branch since the Royal Bank of Scotland closed the last one three years ago. Businesses found themselves without basic banking services and residents without friendly bank staff to help them with their money.
But this month, hope has surfaced – in the unlikely form of a hot pink kiosk in the back of a Co-op supermarket.
It is a OneBanks point of sale, where customers of any major bank can withdraw and deposit money and perform simple transactions. There is always someone there to help visitors and teach them online banking skills.
The future is bright: Angela Finlay of OneBanks shows Gill Jack how to use the kiosk in Kilwinning, Ayrshire
As hundreds of bank branches and free ATMs are closed across the country every year, alternatives are desperately needed to support businesses and the five million people who depend on cash. The OneBanks kiosk is one of many ideas being tested in half a dozen programs as part of a community cash access pilot project.
Kilwinning’s potential savior of in-person banking is nothing like a stifling old branch. In fact, with its hot pink and blue decor, it looks more like an Ann Summers lingerie store. Its location is also unconventional, hidden behind a shelf full of Rice Krispies.
I am greeted at the kiosk by team leader Angela Finlay, who invites me to sit on a comfortable sofa and offers to help me with my banking operations. First, I need to access my bank accounts through the OneBanks app, which I download to my smartphone. Angela also has a tablet handy for those who don’t have one.
Once done, I can deposit or withdraw money at the kiosk the same way I would at a traditional bank counter.
“Although we no longer have banks in town, many customers still don’t want to do their banking online,” says Angela. “My job is to teach them not to fear the Internet, but to embrace it. ”
Visitors will also be able to use the kiosk to shop online from the end of the month. This service could be invaluable for first-time buyers from websites such as Amazon or Asos. People will be able to use cash to pay for their purchases online.
While the concept is impressive, I fear it is too smart for its own good. After all, people abandoned by banks often have no interest in using the Internet or smartphone apps.
However, OneBanks boss Duncan Cockburn is trying to allay my fears. “The idea for OneBanks was born because where my grandmother lives, all the banks closed,” he says. “It was as much about going out to meet people as it was about banking. A friendly personal touch is key for us. Among the first to sign up for Kilwinning is Gill Jack, who arrives to withdraw money. The 48-year-old said: “The alternative is a five-mile drive or bus ride to Irvine or Saltcoats.
Two doors down from the co-op is Alex Bicket Quality Butchers, which has served the city since 1830. Director David Bicket says, “Banks say we all want to do our banking online, but that’s nonsense. Tell that to two-thirds of my clients who still pay in cash. I wish this idea good luck.
Local firefighter and North Ayrshire councilor Scott Davidson agrees. “Money is king – when it comes to budgeting, there is no substitute,” he says. “We also have a lot of seniors who felt abandoned when the banks closed and this alternative idea could prove to be a real lifeline.”
The first OneBanks kiosk was set up at a cooperative in Denny, near Falkirk, in December. Two more are expected to open in Lochgelly, Fife and North Yorkshire.
Two banking hubs run by post are also being tested, in which customers of major banks can also perform basic banking operations. Representatives of the five main banks take turns visiting the hubs each day of the work week.
Cockburn says: “OneBanks offers a great alternative to Post Office banking hubs. While they only have five banks to serve customers on different days of the week, we welcome retail and business customers from all banks seven days a week. ‘
Natalie Ceeney, Chair of the Community Access to Cash Pilot, said: “It’s great to see such innovative ideas emerge as potential solutions for communities that have lost their Main Street banks, but still wish to withdraw and deposit. money – both from OneBanks as well as the banking centers managed by the Post.
“I hope the future should include some form of shared access to bank branches.”
The pilot program runs through September, but OneBanks kiosks may remain after that. If they are successful, more pink booths could appear across the country next year.