Ross McEwan, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)’s newly appointed chief executive, has spoken of the need to replace branch banking with "smarter solutions" in the face of "seismic shifts" in banking.

During one of his first speeches in the role, McEwan revealed that branch transactions at the bank have fallen almost a third since 2010, sparking the need for a review of its business strategy.

"The world is changing dramatically and as we consider the radical change we have to make, we need to prepare for a future based on being there for customers on their terms and not on our terms," he said.

Relying on new technology to modernise its customer service, RBS has forecast its mobile banking app will count three million users by the end of 2013, and has announced an expenditure of £30m on ‘new-generation cash machines’.

Commenting on the figures, McEwan said: "These machines can address the vast majority of the day-to-day banking needs of customers.

"Then instead of answering balance inquiries at a branch, branches should be the places where people go because they need advice, they need a mortgage, they need actual help with their financial position."

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Customers’ needs will be at the heart of the reforms, McEwan assured the audience of a business conference at the Scottish Parliament.

"We need to harness the new-found power of the consumer, embrace the technologies that are enabling it and make ourselves simple and easy to do business with. That is not the reality of banking today," he said.

Professing himself "not nostalgic" about banking, he added that RBS’s business review "will lead to some significant changes".

"When it comes to that time, you may not agree with all the steps that we decide to take but I hope you have some sense today that our intentions are the absolute right ones and that we are focused on our customers," he added.


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