CHANGES in the way we bank is being blamed for a decision by one of the province's foremost banks to close a number of its branches.
Danske Bank has announced that it will be closing four of its branches later this year – in Ballycastle, Comber, Strabane and Kilrea - with the branches closing on December 4.
Commenting on the announcement, Aisling Press, Danske Bank’s Managing Director of Personal Banking, said: “We shape our business around customer behaviour – and in the last number of years, the way customers use branches has changed significantly. Now, many are choosing to use different ways of banking with us, such as our online banking, app or banking on the telephone.
“As a business, we must respond to these changes. This can mean reviewing, and adapting, our investment strategies – sometimes it will include investing more in key branches. Through transformational upgrades, we have invested over £3 million in 15 branches over the past three years – such as upgrades of our branches in Coleraine and Foyle (Altnagelvin and Shipquay Place).
“Other times, it unfortunately means taking difficult decisions to close certain branches that are being used less - we do not take these decisions lightly.
“I have written to our Ballycastle branch customers to assure them that we remain committed to continuing to meet their banking needs and to inform them about the many different ways to bank with us. We will be keeping our cash machine at our building until it is sold, and after that we will look into another suitable location for a cash machine in Ballycastle.
“Over the coming weeks, customers can also find additional support in Ballycastle branch and through our contact centre. Our ‘Step by Step’ guide, with guidance on how to use other ways of banking, will be available in branch, or can be posted out after a phone call. If any of our customers are concerned, I would encourage them to please speak with us - we will do everything we can to help them.”
Danske Bank continues to invest in both its online channels and its day-to-day banking services. Alongside its eBanking and app, advisers are available on the telephone or online from Monday to Sunday, and in the evenings.
Through the Bank’s relationship with the Post Office, customers with a debit card can check their account balances, withdraw cash and make personal or business cash lodgements at any UK Post Office, as well as lodging cheques using a pre-printed credit slip at any Post Office in Northern Ireland.
Over the past few months, Danske Bank has implemented a number of customer support initiatives through its branches, over the phone and online – including granting over 5,000 mortgage payment holidays, 675 personal loans and credit card repayment holidays, approving over £400 million worth of business loans and proactively contacting over 10,000 elderly customers through its ‘Check in and Chat’ service – which is set to continue, and offers proactive support and guidance.
After December 4, Danske Bank will have a network of 36 branches across Northern Ireland.