Banks' Net moves will hurt poorest - analyst

Here comes cheaper banking -- but only if you're online

Banks' efforts to encourage use of the Internet instead of the high street to manage their accounts are likely to hurt poorer people, according to one financial analyst.

Barclays expects 10 percent of its customers to manage their accounts using the Internet within the next two years. This just days after Barclays confirmed plans to charge non-Barclays customers £1 to use its ATM machines.

Mintel Research financial analyst Lance Close believes the events are connected and says those with less money are likely to lose out. "This isn't about making money. Banks want people to do things as cheaply as possible. They can either 'pull' customers with incentives, or 'push' them with this sort of project. It will definitely disadvantage those who can't afford to get onto the Internet. Even £1 can build up substantially if you have to pay in money every day."

A spokesperson for Barclays denies bullying customers and says it is offering more options. "We're not trying to discourage people from traditional banking. We are still running our branch services and the Internet is just another way to access this. It's all about offering our customers more choice."

Barclays also announced substantial job-cuts Friday, indicating that customers may not be the only ones to suffer from a shift towards online banking. On top of the 6000 redundancies announced 6 weeks ago, Barclays said 1000 more jobs will be shed in coming months.

Do you agree that poorer people will be disadvantaged by these moves? Tell the Mailroom.

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