The Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is closing 44 branches in Britain, including 14 "last banks in town," local media reported Thursday.
"Banking has changed significantly over the last few years as more and more of our customers are banking with us where and when it is convenient for them. As a result, there has been a 30-percent drop in branch transactions since 2010," the online newspaper Scotsman quoted a RBS spokeswoman as saying.
Many branches classed as "last bank in town" are only open for a few hours a week and only see one or two customers per hour, and the bank has to adapt to what customers want, which is why it is investing in a range of other ways customers can bank, including online and telephone banking, mobile app, and in any one of the Post Office's 11,500 branches across Britain, according to the spokeswoman.
Bailed out in 2008 and currently 81 percent government-owned, RBS reported losses of more than 8 billion pounds (13.28 billion U.S. dollars) for 2013.
In 2010, RBS created a "customer charter" setting out a number of commitments as it sought to become "Britain's most helpful bank," and in a progress report published in February 2011 the lender reiterated its pledge to "stay open for business if we are the last bank in town and consider a range of options to ensure a local banking service is available."
The group has around 2,000 branches across Britain, although it is spinning 314 of those off into its Williams & Glyn brand to meet European Union rules on state aid, it added.