We’re excited to announce that we’re working on creating a new digital platform to help those who are digitally or financially excluded navigate online banking. Earlier this month we were successful in a funding bid to work with JP Morgan’s Force for Good project, an initiative that sees technologists from the bank volunteer their time and expertise to build sustainable digital solutions for local charitable organisations. The Force for Good team will help us develop a platform that will provide a test environment for individuals who have not used online banking before to familiarise themselves with how it works.

The need for a resource like this can be attributed to the widespread closure of bank branches; a third of Scotland’s bank branches have closed in the past eight years and this is expected to rise (TSB this week announced plans to close over 80 UK branches next year). For those who do their banking in their local branch or those who are not comfortable using online banking (for example older people and those in rural communities), the rate at which branches continue to close poses a risk of being left behind or having to change banks.

While many people already use online banking regularly, it can be daunting if you’ve never done so and those most likely to be affected by bank closures are also those least likely to use online banking. Recent research from YouGov shows that reluctance to bank digitally is not always due to a lack of access; of those who frequently visit bank branches, 93% own a mobile phone and 75% own a laptop. The research also found that 60% of regular branch visitors say they find the pace of new technology overwhelming and over a third explicitly say they are uncomfortable using online banking. Other barriers to digital banking include security and privacy concerns, and lack of proper training being offered by banks.

Our Financial Capability Manager Marlena McFarlane said: “Our new platform aims to alleviate some of the concerns people have around banking digitally by providing a means for them to practise using features in a test environment, without the worry of using their own account – a tool that doesn’t currently exist. Users will be supported by our Financial Capability team as they learn about functions such as setting up payments and transfers, checking their balance, managing overdrafts and more. The aim of this project links to our strategic goal of advancing the availability of digital services and products.”

There are clear financial wellbeing benefits of using online banking that we hope to make apparent through the platform. An individual can check their balance at any time instead of having to adhere to bank opening hours or find an ATM. It also allows bills and transfers to be paid quickly, and by having all of your money accessible in one place, it’s easier to budget and track spending. Our Financial Capability team will be on hand should users have any questions or require support. The platform is anticipated to launch in summer 2020.