SOME 90 high street bank branches have closed in Scotland in the past two years as customers go online and banking services are offered at Post Offices, a new report reveals.

And it is the Scotland-based banks that have cut the most with the Bank of Scotland taking out 34 branches followed closely by RBS with 31.

The analysis from the consumer organisation Which? does not take into account the nine RBS branches that are to shut in Scotland in 2017 in a move announced earlier this month.

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The extent of the closures between January 2015 and January 2017, comes after an independent report by Professor Russel Griggs criticised banks for doing too little to support elderly customers and small businesses when they close branches.

HeraldScotland:

Mr Griggs, a Scottish businessman who was appointed by the British Bankers’ Association said banks could "significantly improve" the way they engage and communicate with their customers.

He says banks had closed 600 branches in the past 18 months in the UK — out of a total of about 8,000.

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The regions with the most bank branch closures per 100,000 people are Wales, South West England and Scotland - all of which have extensive rural areas, the study said.

The worst hit areas of Scotland are East Renfrewshire where there have been 5.4 branches closed per 100,000 of population, followed by Moray with 5.3 and the City of Edinburgh with 3.7.

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A row over the closure of the RBS branch in Barrhead, East Renfrewshire was taken to the Scottish Parliament.

The Cross Arthurlie Street service was due to shut its doors along with the bank's other East Renfrewshire branch in Netherlee.

It meant RBS customers in Barrhead would need travel to the centre of Paisley to get branch services.

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Which? said most banks cite the growth of online banking as the reason for closing branches.

It said HSBC said the number of visits to branches had fallen on average by 40% in the past five years as customers moved to banking online.

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But Which? said that while 56% of adults used online banking last year, there are still around 20 million adults that don’t use it, and among them will be people who aren’t online and those with a poor broadband connection.

And the consumer group said that in the last two years, the Post Office has also offered an alternative for bank customers to access some everyday bank services.

But while 72% of people asked rated their experience of the Post Office as good or excellent, 41% said they didn’t realise that it even offered banking services.

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Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which? said: “Access to the services necessary to make everyday banking possible should be simple and straightforward. We’ve seen some good examples of banks acting responsibly and in the interest of local communities when they close branches.

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"However, banks can and must do a better job of working with their customers to understand their needs and those of the local community, especially when they are making changes to the services they offer or closing branches.”

The Which? research found that across the UK 1,046 bank branches were shut over the two years with HSBC closing a quarter of its network (321 branches), Lloyds Banking Group closing 14 percent (180) and RBS Group shutting 10 percent (191).

RBS said that simple transactions undertaken at its branch counters have fallen by 43 percent since 2010, while online and mobile transactions have quadrupled.

HeraldScotland:

During the same period of time, mobile transactions alone have increased by over 13 times. The bank said its mobile phone banking service is more likely to be recommended by their customers than any of their other products or services.

"As our customers change the way that they access their banking with us, we need to take tough decisions about the shape of our network. But, we review each branch on a case-by-case basis, depending on usage and other ways to access banking services in the local area," said an RBS spokesman