Facebook Tracking Pixel

Bank Closures are Widening the Digital Divide: Are you Ready to Support your Customers Online?

Published By:

bank with a closed sign above it

Key Takeaways

  • According to the Financial Times, 636 bank branches are set to close by the end of 2023 with 42 already projected to close in 2024.
  • With overall branch networks shrinking by 60%, consumer advocates warn that bank closures restrict access to cash and in-person services.
  • Customers with disabilities and access needs may face digital barriers that will stand in the way of them managing their finances online.
  • Making your website inclusive removes online barriers and allows equal access for customers. Various technologies are available to help you including the Recite Me Checker and the Recite Me Assistive Toolbar.

Why are Bank Branches closing?

With more and more customers moving to online and mobile banking to manage their money, bank branches are closing across the UK. The Financial Times reported that so far in 2023, there have been 636 bank branch closures with 42 predicted to close already in 2024.

It was also recorded by the Financial Times that three-fifths of the network has closed since 2015 and only 4000 physical branches are still standing. These changes have all been supercharged by the COVID-19 pandemic and underlie the growing sparsity of cash infrastructure across the UK.

How will this Impact Customers with Disabilities and Access Needs?

Traditionally customers have visited in store bank branches for a number of reasons including:

  • Opening an account
  • Taking out a loan
  • Managing business accounts
  • Taking out insurance
  • Investing

The closure of more banks will bring about a significant shift in the way individuals handle their finances in the UK. More customers will have to turn to online banking services to manage their finances. This transition means there will be a greater reliance on banking websites and mobile applications.

How will this Impact Customers with Disabilities and Access Needs? 

While the transition to online banking presents numerous benefits, it also poses challenges for disabled customers. Disabled individuals may face barriers when accessing and navigating websites, due to factors like visual impairments, motor disabilities, or cognitive limitations. The reliance on online banking may inadvertently exclude or create difficulties for disabled customers who rely on traditional in person banking and finance services.

illustration of man in wheelchair with banking icons around him

Watch Now: FCA Consumer Duty Webinar

Watch our webinar that delves into the FCA’s Consumer Duty Regulations and explores strategies for effectively addressing vulnerable customers. Learn from an expert panel including representatives from Lloyds Banking Group and Newcastle Building Society who share valuable insights and practical guidance.

Why is it Important for Bank Branches to Provide a Digitally Inclusive Experience?

From the first visit, it’s essential to provide the best customer service so that your customers’ members know that their needs matter. But there are many other reasons you should be prioritising digital inclusion on your banking website:

Beating the Competition

Whilst most banks will still be adapting to the change, you can beat the competition by investing in accessibility technology first and providing tools so everyone can handle their finances online. Equidox recently reported that nearly 70% of banking websites are unusable and can only be navigated using a mouse. So, the time for change in the digital banking world is needed more than ever.

Market Expansion

Did you know that according to Age UK, almost 6 million people aged 65+ can’t use the internet safely OR successfully? The addition of assistive technology won’t just help your current customer base use online banking successfully but, it will assist those who struggle to browse the internet in the first place so no one is left behind.

Enhance your Reputation

Once you beat the competition to provide an inclusive website & increase your customer reach with accessibility technology, this will have a positive, knock-on effect on your company’s brand awareness. Not to mention that a study by Accenture found that 74% of customers are more likely to stay loyal to a company that provides inclusive experiences so it’s a win-win for all parties.

How Can You Address Accessibility Challenges on Your Banking Website?

Recite Me’s innovative suite of accessibility on-demand tools makes websites accessible and inclusive for a diverse range of people:

Checker image

Website Accessibility Checker

Our accessibility checker takes care of accessibility considerations for you, and in doing so, tackles several usability issues. It audits back-end and front-end web development processes by running 396 separate compliance scans in line with WCAG 2.1 and breaks down the issues you should be working to fix. The methodology follows a simple four-step process to help you increase your accessibility score.

Run a Free Check of Your Homepage

illustration of the Recite Me assistive toolbar product

Assistive Toolbar

Our accessibility toolbar promotes online inclusion by allowing end users with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and varying linguistic needs to access your website per their individual needs and preferences. Users can make styling changes to the page, translate the content into over 100 on-screen languages, have content read aloud and much more.

Schedule a Demo of our Toolbar

Financial Organisations Leading the Way with Inclusion

We already work with several organisations in the Finance sector already who are leading the way in breaking down online barriers for all their customers


Halifax has been championing diversity and inclusion on its website with the Recite Me technology since 2021. The Recite Me assistive toolbar has been implemented on Halifax’s banking website so that customers can modify their webpage to suit their needs.

Halifax website open on a laptop with the toolbar launched

James Fulker, Chief Digital Officer at Halifax commented,

quote“I am thrilled that Halifax customers can now use the Recite Me toolbar on our website. Along with our commitment to ensuring our websites and apps are inclusive for all customers, the toolbar can add a further level of personalisation for those wanting a little extra help when they’re online.”

Newbury Building Society

As one of the oldest building societies in the UK, Newbury Building Society prides itself on going the extra mile to support members.

Newbury Building Society website open on a laptop with the toolbar launched

Emma Gentry, Marketing and Communications Manager at Newbury Building Society commented,

quote“We are excited to launch the Recite Me toolbar, which will enable all of our members to fully engage with the support and information on our website. It’s absolutely critical to us that our customers are able to engage with us in ways that suit them and help them to feel included, and the Recite Me toolbar is one of the ways in which we can achieve this.”

What the Data Says

By embedding Recite Me software on their websites, several leading finance organisations have already made significant progress in supporting disabled customers online. With inclusive online access, it is much easier for everyone to check timetables, book train tickets and access travel updates.

Results from our annual accessibility report show that last year:

  • The Recite Me toolbar was active on over 5000 websites
  • Over 6.2 million toolbar launches
  • Over 43 million pages made inclusive
  • On average, Recite Me toolbar users viewed 6.89 web pages per session – more than double the internet average of 2.8 pages per session.

For a complete breakdown of how the Recite Me toolbar can be utilised on Finance websites, check out our Guide for Online Inclusion in the Finance and Law Sector.

Start Your Digital Inclusion Journey

Our team is here to help you make your online banking platform more inclusive. The great thing about accessibility and usability updates is they can be addressed in any order. So, get started on your online inclusion strategy today by either:

  1. Running a free check of your website for WCAG 2.1 AA compliance. 
  2. Schedule a free demonstration of our Assistive Toolbar
bank with a closed sign above it

Related Content