Barclays is to launch a face-to-face video banking service, becoming the first bank in the UK to allow customers to speak with advisers remotely using a mobile device.

The Skype-style service will be available to premier banking customers - which earn £75,000 a year or more - from 8 December, offering them the opportunity to speak with advisers at any time of day, using a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Barclays customer speaks to adviser on smartphone: image credit - Barclays
Barclays customer speaks to adviser on smartphone: image credit - Barclays

The video banking capabilities will then be rolled out to mortgage, business and wealth customers from early 2015, before being extended to all personal banking users at a later date.

Although other banks have launched similar video services, these have been more limited in their reach. For example, Nationwide’s remote mortgage application system is available for use at 60 of its branches to allow remote discussions with advisers at a time of their choice.

The launch of the Barclays service is part of wider trend in the retail banking sector to reduce reliance on branch networks by investing in digital technology, with more and more customers banking via mobile device.

“This is a watershed moment for the way people do their banking in the UK – where we will finally be able to interact with customers completely on their terms, rather than ours,” said Steven Cooper, personal banking CEO at Barclays.

“While many of our customers are increasingly using digital channels to complete routine transactions, for the important moments, you just can’t beat face to face conversations, yet traditional branch opening hours don’t always give customers that choice."

The service, which is available on Android and iOS devices, and on laptops and PCs via a plug-in, will automatically match customers to a specific member of staff they have spoken to previously.