Banks should look at moving in together to avoid the damaging impact of branch closures, it has been suggested.
The proposal to maintain the high street presence of branches amid the rise of internet banking has been welcomed by the country’s most senior economist.
It has been put to a Holyrood committee investigating the closure of a third of branches in Scotland since 2010.
The Courier is campaigning against the latest round of closures by RBS and Bank of Scotland, which would see 10 more branches in Tayside and Fife shut down this year.
In its submission to MSPs, Age Scotland called on industry chiefs to look at sharing facilities.
“These have the potential to provide bank-style service where footfall is too low to support individually branded branches,” the charity said.
Tim McCormack, a former investment banker who owns a newsagent in the Borders, has laid out a similar plan, but suggests existing high street businesses could host the banks.
Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, praised the Age Scotland suggestion, saying the branch closures issue is “unlikely to go away in Scotland or across the rest of the UK anytime soon”.
“This would reduce the collective commercial overhead of running multiple branches, while still supporting at least one point of access to banking services for geographically remote communities,” he said.
The shared services move was backed by the Scottish Liberal Democrats at their conference at the weekend.
Jamie Stone, the Lib Dem MP, said the hubs are an “innovative solution to the daunting programme of closures on the horizon”.
“The UK Government must give these proposals serious consideration,” he added.
The economy committee starts its inquiry this week on the impact of branch closures. The first RBS closures in this round are due to start next month.
Age Scotland has told MSPs that keeping branches open is key to staving off loneliness and isolation, which the Scottish Government is forging a strategy against.
It said: “For many older people, going to the bank is part of a routine that gets them out of the house into their town centre to use local shops and spend time with others as they go about their business.”