Knaresborough: Yorkshire market town becomes home to UK-first project aimed at tackling the impact of bank branch closures

Newcastle Building Society is piloting a multi-bank kiosk in its branch in Knaresborough, as part of a UK-first project aiming to address the damaging impact of bank branch closures and to help keep cash flowing in the town.

The Society is collaborating with OneBanx to provide access to a kiosk which uses Open Banking technology to allow small businesses and customers of any bank on the open banking network to withdraw and deposit cash from their accounts.

Andrew Haigh, chief executive officer at Newcastle Building Society, said: “Since January 2015, banks have announced the closure of more than 5,000 branches across the UK.

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“Our blueprint for a cost effective branch model, which combines communities, technology and partnership is an approach that has been forged in the North East – but is potentially applicable to every high street.

Branch manager Heather Pearman in Newcastle Building Society' Knaresborough branch. Picture by Charlotte Gale.Branch manager Heather Pearman in Newcastle Building Society' Knaresborough branch. Picture by Charlotte Gale.
Branch manager Heather Pearman in Newcastle Building Society' Knaresborough branch. Picture by Charlotte Gale.

“We think it’s more important than ever to offer people the opportunity to transact locally and access cash. Many businesses still take cash and have to travel miles to deposit it when the last bank has left town - meaning extra cost, time and loss of income. Many people also find they can budget better by paying for everyday items using cash. The current cost of living challenges have only served to reinforce this."

The news comes after last November, HSBC announced the closure of 114 branches, with Pocklington, Skipton, Whitby, Broghouse, Ilkley, Wetherby, Horsforth, Epworth and Settle among the places to be affected.

The kiosk is located within the Society’s branch inside Knaresborough library, which opened last year through a partnership with North Yorkshire County Council.

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The society noted that in opening the branch, they hoped to restore the “everyday convenience of face-to-face financial services” to the town after the last bank branch closed in 2021.

Under the pilot, users of the kiosk will be able to deposit notes and coins, and withdraw cash from their bank account. Personal and small business customers of any bank on the Open Banking network will also be able to access their UK account, provided they have online banking access and have registered for the OneBanx service.

The society also aims to have branch colleagues available to provide customers with information on the registration process, enabling people to use the kiosk independently.

Nathan Francey, store manager of musical instrument The Music Bank, located in Knaresborough, noted the benefits of the service.

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He said: “It's fantastic to have the Newcastle Building Society branch in the library. Hearing that customers and businesses will have access to cash withdrawal and deposit is such a great boost for the town.

“It will save us so much time and effort travelling to Harrogate to our nearest bank branch, so as a business we will definitely be using the machine going forward.”

A further kiosk is also being piloted in the Society’s branch on Gosforth High Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, after several major bank branches closed over recent years despite concerns voiced by local businesses and residents.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for libraries, Cllr Greg White, said: “The new OneBanx kiosk in Knaresborough library is a welcome addition to the services available at Newcastle Building Society’s branch. The branch is catering for local residents and businesses who can no longer access financial facilities in the town.