Lloyds Banking Group has pledged to train 20,000 ‘digital champions’ to help improve digital skills among its customers.

Under the plans, announced as part of the bank’s commitment to charity Go ON UK, 7,000 staff members will become digital champions by the end of the year, supporting individuals and small businesses to use the internet for banking services.  The figure is expected to rise to one in four of Lloyds 90,000 employees by 2017.

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According to Go ON UK statistics highlighted by Lloyds, 8.3 million out of the UK's 64.1 million population do not use the Internet, and one in five adults lack basic digital skills.

The bank will also partner with the Tinder Foundation, providing it with access to a network of over 5,000 UK online centres.

 “We firmly believe that digital technology can play a pivotal role in Britain’s prosperity,” said Miguel-Ángel Rodríguez-Sola, Lloyds' group director for digital. 

“By helping customers and communities use digital technology, they are empowered to unlock the many benefits that digital delivers, including saving money and being able to better manage their finances.

“We believe we can make a very real difference in this regard by harnessing the diverse skills of our colleagues together with digital information and technology.”

Like most high street banks in the UK, Lloyds has been investing in digital services to cut costs and reduce the need to rely on its branch networks, as mobile and online channels are much cheaper than physical transactions.  As part of this shift, Lloyds announced plans to cut 9,000 jobs and close 200 branches at the end of last year.

It is not the first to focus on education for customers as it undergoes a digital transformation, however. Another large retail bank, Barclays, has trained thousands of ‘digital eagles’ for the same purpose, as well as launching other initiatives to support digital skills, including Code Playground – aimed at teach programming to kids – and the Digital Driving Licence, which provides basic technology training modules. 

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