Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is set to shut down 158 branches in Britain and Ireland, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

The downsizing exercise will impact 30 RBS branches, as well as 128 NatWest branches. The move will affect 770 staff, of whom about 300 are expected to be moved to other roles.

Following the implementation of the move, the banking group will comprise 151 RBS branches and 856 NatWest branches.

The group, which is currently 73% owned by government, said that the closures are in response to more customers adopting digital banking channels over traditional branches. The group added that branch transactions dropped 43% since 2010, while online and mobile transactions surged more than 400%.

“As customers change the way they bank with us, we must change the way we serve them. The role of the branch is fast moving to a centre for advice, away from basic transactions. While the branch will still be a core part of our offering to customers, inevitably some branches will have to close,” a spokesperson for the bank said.

At the same time, RBS said that it would create two new roles to support customers- community bankers and technology experts.

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