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The impact of 'branchless banking' on building society branch networks

Lookup NU author(s): Richard Willis, Professor Neill Marshall, Ranald Richardson


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The authors examine the impact of the remote delivery of financial services on the branch network of British building societies. The current phase of branch-network rationalisation in the financial sector in Europe and North America is argued in the academic literature to be the inevitable consequence of the growth of electronic and telemediated forms of delivery of financial services. In the British building society sector, despite some evidence of branch closure as the use of the Internet and telephone call centres in the delivery of financial services has grown, the picture that emerges is of a dynamic branch network that is responding to changing customer demands and new technological possibilities. Face-to-face advice and discussions between customers and trained 'experts' remain an important part of the mortgage transaction. In the savings market, where products have become more commodified, telephone call centres and, more recently, the Internet have become more prominent, but institutions still rely heavily on the branch network to deliver services. The authors suggest that, although there have been changes in the relative importance of different distribution channels as sources of business in the financial sector, it is wrong to view these changes in terms of a simple branch-versus-direct dichotomy. A more complex picture is presented, with most institutions adopting a multichannel approach to the delivery of financial services, and electronic forms of delivery of financial services being developed as an additional delivery channel alongside the branch.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Willis RM, Marshall JN, Richardson RGW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environment and Planning A

Year: 2001

Volume: 33

Issue: 8

Pages: 1371-1384

ISSN (print): 0308-518X

ISSN (electronic): 1472-3409


DOI: 10.1068/a33171


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