HSBC confirm plan to close branches in Coleraine and Portadown
HSBC is planning to close all but one of its Northern Ireland branches next year.
The lender has placed Coleraine and Portadown on a list of 114 outlets it plans to shut from April 2023.
That would leave Belfast as the last remaining HSBC branch in the north.
The announcement comes just three months after HSBC closed its banks in Omagh and Derry.
They were among the 17 branches closed by banks across Northern Ireland during 2022.
HSBC’s branch on Coleraine’s Railway Road is set to close on May 2 2023, followed by the Portadown branch on Meadow Lane on June 6 2023.
It plans to refurbish its Royal Avenue bank in the second half of 2023.
HSBC said it hopes to redeploy all its employees at affected branches to other roles within the group, either to other branches or to a different position.
The bank said it plans to speak to all staff in the branches due to close, but it estimates that around 100 employees could leave UK wide.
It comes as HSBC has seen a significant decline in customers visiting their local branches, many of whom have turned to digital banking services instead.
Indeed, the decline in customers using branches has accelerated so much since the Covid pandemic that some of those closing are serving fewer than 250 people a week, HSBC said.
On the other hand, usage of its mobile app has almost tripled since 2017, with the vast majority of transactions completed digitally.
Jackie Uhi, HSBC UK's managing director of distribution, said: "People are changing the way they bank and footfall in many branches is at an all-time low, with no signs of it returning. Banking remotely is becoming the norm for the vast majority of us.
"The decision to close a branch is never easy or taken lightly, especially if we are the last branch in an area.
"So we've invested heavily in our 'post-closure' strategy, including providing free tablet devices to selected branch customers who do not already have a device to bank digitally, alongside one-to-one coaching to help them migrate to digital banking."
Tobias Gruber, founder and CEO of Mycommunityfinance.co.uk, said: "I'm not surprised HSBC will close yet more branches as customers transition to online banking in their droves, but I hope it will plough the money saved into improving their digital and telephone banking offerings for their customers.
"It's unacceptable for bank customers to wait up to 30 minutes to speak to someone when it's their only choice because their local branch has vanished. There are no excuses to keep customers on hold, considering the vast amount of money banks generally save from closing their high street branches.
"Post offices are one alternative for basic transactions like paying in cheques and cash, but this move by HSBC will undoubtedly leave even more rural customers that don't wish and unable to use the internet to do their banking frustrated, stuck and unable to access their money.”