OVER-THE-COUNTER banking services are set to make a return to Cumnock to fill the gap left by the closure of traditional face-to-face branches.

A new 'banking hub' is to be set up in the town - and is likely to be ready to open next year.

It's the work of the LINK Group, a consortium of banks, which agreed two years ago to set up a group to examine whether over-the-counter services and access to cash are needed in any town that has lost a traditional branch.

A similar service opened in Troon last month, while Kilwinning is also set to see a hub established in the coming months.

Girvan is also on the list of towns set to see a hub open during 2024.

Banking hubs are a shared banking space, similar to a traditional bank branch, but available to customers of any of the main high street banks.

The hub will consist of a counter service operated by Post Office employees, where customers and businesses can withdraw and deposit cash, make bill payments and carry out regular banking transactions.

In addition, there will be private spaces where customers can speak to community bankers from their own bank for more complicated matters that require specialist knowledge or privacy.

The banks will be working on a rotating basis, so there will be staff from different banks available on different days.

In addition to banking hubs, other new innovations such as deposit services, and cash at the till, which allows retailers to provide free access to cash to consumers, are beginning to appear across the UK.

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Over the next few weeks, LINK will begin to engage with the local community in Cumnock and start looking for potential sites.

The new banking hubs will now be delivered by a bank-owned infrastructure company called Cash Access UK.

The hubs will likely open in 2024.

Chris Ashton, head of banking services at LINK, said: “Access to cash and face to face banking services remain important for communities across the UK.

"We know many people are comfortable using contactless and digital payments, but over five million people still rely on cash every day.

"We’re pleased to make these recommendations and to support local communities.

“If any town or village thinks it has an access to cash issue, we’d recommend people firstly check our cash locator tool and if they believe there’s a problem, they can contact us directly to investigate.”

Banking hubs are being created across the UK and are funded and supported by 10 major high street banking providers: Bank of Ireland UK, Barclays Bank UK PLC, Danske Bank, HSBC UK Bank plc, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide Building Society, NatWest Group plc, Santander UK plc, TSB Bank plc and Virgin Money.