Half of SMEs still visit a bank branch once a week or more

Half of SMEs in the UK and Ireland (51%) visit a bank branch at least once every week, but online business banking is still used more, according to Close Brothers Business Barometer research.

In total, 12% of businesses say that they use a physical bank daily and 39% use one every week. A further 31% visit a branch monthly. In comparison, three quarters (76%) use online banking for their firm at least once a week, with 41% saying they use it every day.

Interestingly, these results suggest that there is a significant overlap and while companies may opt to go online for some transactions, the two banking mediums are not used exclusively. In fact, just a tenth of SMEs (11%) say they visit a bank branch less than twice a year.

The results vary by industry. Three fifths of those working in Food and Drink (63%), Wholesale and Distribution (63%), and Construction (60%) use a brick-and-mortar bank at least once a week. However, this figure reduces by up to a fifth in other sectors, such as Engineering (41%), and Print and Packaging (43%).

Firms in England’s capital are also more likely to visit a physical bank. Nearly a third of SMEs in London (30%) visit a branch every day, and a further third (35%) use one every week. That’s 14% more than the average.

David Thomson, CEO of Close Brothers Invoice and Speciality Finance, said:

“In recent years, e-commerce options, banking apps and websites have become increasingly accessible and easier to use, prompting millions of businesses to make the move online.

“Many digital services have enhanced business opportunities for SMEs, making them more efficient and giving them more time to focus on their core activities.

“The finance industry has also developed quickly to offer better digital experiences to their customers, but our research suggests that companies still value physical locations and a personal service.

“Having an account that offers both can be beneficial for SMEs. While traditional bank branches provide many valuable services that online banking cannot, convenience is an advantage for busy SMEs.”

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