Some banks, such as Bankinter, have maintained opening hours until 2pm / SUR

Two major Spanish banks to increase opening hours at their branches

The Santander and Abanca move comes in response to the public outcry over the lack of face-to-face services for the elderly

ANTONIO JAVIER LÓPEZ / JOSÉ MARÍA CAMARERO

In response to public pressure, Santander and Abanca have announced they will extend opening hours at their branches in order to allow more customers access to face-to-face services.

Santander, which has 1,947 branches nationwide, will from Monday 14 February open from 8.30am to 2pm, three hours longer than previously. Cashier operations will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9am to 10.30am for the cash payment of bills.

The issue of dwindling face-to-face services at banks, and its negative impact on customers, especially older customers, was highlighted by Valencian retiree Carlos San Juan who launched a petition demanding better services.

Abanca has also announced that its branches will stay open until 2pm and that it will assign a personal manager for people who have difficulties accessing bank services online. The personal manager will be available for face-to-face meetings and telephone consultations.

Abanca, chaired by Juan Carlos Escotet, has 634 branches across Spain and 30 per cent, 558,147 people, of its customers are over the age of 65. The bank has also committed to making cash machines easier to use.

On February 7, Minister for the Economy and Vice-President, Nadia Calviño, told banks they have one month to review their services.

Sources in the banking sector said they agreed the range of services and access they offer customers should be subject to a review.

“To a certain extent, perhaps we have underestimated the impact it had on the most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly,” one banking sector source admitted. Some banks, such as Bankinter have maintained opening hours until 2pm as a matter of policy saying it is essential to offer services to all their customers, regardless of their tech skills.