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What is a high street bank?

High street bank

A bank that provides services for the general public as well as businesses and usually has lots of branches in towns and cities is often classed as a high street bank or retail bank. This is to distinguish it from banks with other functions in the banking system such as investment banks or central banks.

Where have you heard about high street banks?

It's a term commonly used in the UK but it is not used much elsewhere. You might for example read in the press that high street banks are cutting their interest rates on savings accounts following changes to base rate to indicate that it is retail banks that are changing their rates.

What you need to know about high street banks.

The bank branch network has been declining steadily for nearly 30 years. There were 20,583 branches in 1988 but only 8,837 in 2012, according to statistics from the British Bankers Association. And closures continue. This is partly due to the increase in the use of online and mobile banking. It is also partly due to the desire of banks to shut branches in poorer areas where the economic value of transactions is low, according to researchers from the University of Nottingham.

Takeovers and mergers have resulted in a concentration of fewer different banking groups. Worried about the lack of competition, the UK government has tried to encourage new challenger banks such as MetroBank and to break up some of the larger banks following the 2008 financial crisis so the shape of high street banking in the UK continues to change.

Find out more about high street banks.

Compare high street banks with investment banks and central banks

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