Amongst all the things that are lacking in the Bubble, access to good banking has not historically been one. However, that may be changing as Santander recently announced that it would be closing it’s St. Andrews Market Street Location on May 2nd of this year.
This is in addition to 14 other branch closures in Scotland and 140 across the UK, making up about a fifth of the company’s UK locations.
On their website, Santander has given reason for the closures, stating that, “more of our customers are changing the way they choose to manage their money, and as a result, customers are visiting our branches less frequently. More and more people find it convenient to do their day to day banking using online, mobile or telephone banking.”
This decline of brick-and-mortar storefronts with tellers and addresses is just one example of a global shift towards a reliance on technology and smart phones.
While this push towards mobile banking is surely more efficient, there are concerns around these closures that are based in practicalities such as a loss of jobs and lack of security in a system dependent on the internet.
In terms of job-loss, it is estimated that these closures are putting 1,270 jobs at risk across the UK – a phenomenon that is surely to continue as the world becomes more and more dominated by technology.
Students of the University of St. Andrews who use the branch have expressed major concerns about how the branch closure might impact their daily lives. It is no surprise that university students are among the most common groups to lose their bank cards. However, as explained by one student who uses Santander, “…when you lose your card you can only get money out from the branch and need to collect your new card in the branch because your university address isn’t your billing address. You won’t be able to do that if the nearest one is in Dundee.”
Though the lengths Santander goes to in order to ensure security after losing your card is reassuring in some regards. An increasing dependence on technology and the internet for something as important as banking puts even more importance on the necessity of security around the internet. The Spanish Company clearly has faith in its security measures as they continued to lament that they “don’t take the decision to close any branch lightly. We assess each branch individually to consider the potential impact for customers and the alternative options available to bank locally.”
So, with luck and reassurance from the company that it will make minimal impact, the decision to close the St Andrews Santander branch will not negatively affect local residents, leaving us to question nothing more than what will take the place of the bank on the corner of Market St. and Greyfriars Gardens. In the words of a concerned student, “If it becomes a Taste of Scotland, I’m going to scream. No town needs this much cashmere.”