UPDATE 1-RBS rules out further Scottish branch cuts until 2020


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LONDON (Reuters) – Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) will not review the size of its Scottish branch network again until at least 2020, following widespread criticism of its decision to close 62 of them.

Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Ross McEwan speaks during an interview with Reuters at Canary Wharf in London, Britain July 7, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall

RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan made the pledge on Tuesday in response to questions from lawmakers in London on the bank’s closures in Scotland, where it was established in 1772 and is still headquartered.

McEwan said RBS had to respond to the growing use of online banking and fewer people using its branches, but was now “comfortable” with the size of its network in Scotland,

“Our branches do remain a core part of our service and we will not look at the size of the network again in Scotland until at least 2020,” he told the Scottish Affairs Committee.

FILE PHOTO: The Royal Bank of Scotland is seen in the High Street Melrose in the Scottish Borders, Scotland, Britain April 27, 2017. Picture taken April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/File Photo

Banks are closing branches to cut costs and modernize as more nimble digital lenders grow in popularity.

RBS has been feeling the heat from critics and postponed 10 of its planned closures in Scotland pending a review.

“You’ve taken a public relations pounding on this,” committee chair Pete Wishart said, asking whether 9 million pounds ($12.16 million) savings from the closures was worth it.

Other committee members raised concerns about vulnerable customers and those in rural areas that might not easily be able to access other face-to-face, online or mobile services.

However McEwan said the British government, which owns 71 percent of the bank, had expressed no view on the cuts other than that it was a commercial matter for the bank.

So far, customers had not been leaving RBS in large numbers due to closures, Les Matheson, its chief executive of personal and business banking told the committee.

($1 = 0.7402 pounds)

Editing by Alexander Smith


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