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Nationwide Building Society has expanded the use of video conferencing equipment for customer consultations to 100 more branches.

An initial trial of the technology in six Nationwide branches in 2013 resulted in good feedback from customers. It was first used to enable mortgage consultants to meet customers via  high definition video links  using Cisco technology, and has been expanded to include financial planning managers and personal banking managers.

The advisers offer the same beginning-to-end, fully compliant mortgage service that is available in-branch. The high-definition video link and shared screen system provide an interactive display and there is a printer for the paperwork.

The expansion adds to the 60 Nationwide branches that already offered the service and the company plans to reach 400 by November. Nationwide said the move will create 200 jobs. More than 3,000 customers have used the service, known as Nationwide Now.

“Customers are able to see a consultant quickly, sometimes within 24 hours, and at a time that best suits them,” said Mark Goldman, divisional director of central distribution at Nationwide Building Society.

“By combining the service provided by our employees in-branch and the use of technology, Nationwide Now is able to increase access to our experts and offer greater flexibility for our customers.”

Plummeting connectivity costs has made video a genuine business tool. Years ago, providing such a service on Skype would have cost thousands of pounds, but today it is on everyone’s desktop and is practically free.

Meanwhile, bank branches are shutting across the country as banks renege on their promise to keep branches open, blaming changing consumer habits and the move to digital technology.

A Computer Weekly survey of IT industry professionals found the main reason most people go to the bank is to pay in cheques, but recent announcements from Barclays and Lloyds of apps that enable people to pay in cheques using their smartphone could mean this will not be the case in future.

The next most common reason to visit branches was to transfer money, the survey found..

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