Fewer than four in 10 people in Scotland trust day-to-day banking services, according to new research.
The latest Which? annual Scottish Consumer Insight Report found 39% of people north of the border said they trusted day-to-day banking services compared to 45% in the UK as a whole.
It comes after Which? last month reported Scotland has lost a third of its bank branches in the last eight years, with the number of banks and building societies dropping from 1,625 to 1,015 between 2010 and 2018.
Which? said with cash machines also closing at an “alarming rate” it is concerned Scottish communities and businesses could face financial exclusion unless a regulator is urgently given a statutory duty to protect access to money.
The Scottish Consumer Insight Report questioned 1,075 people in Scotland to create a picture of consumer attitudes in 2018.
It also found fewer than four in 10 people (39%) in Scotland said they trust broadband services, below the UK average of 45%.
Caroline Normand, Which? director of advocacy said: “Scottish consumers are struggling with dwindling day-to-day banking services and poor broadband connections, and our research suggests this could be having an impact on trust in these vital industries and demonstrates the need for a dedicated consumer body backed by the Scottish Government.
“If Consumer Scotland is to be a real force for improving the lives of ordinary people, it must take on board the concerns highlighted in this report – and make tackling them a top priority.”
The Consumer Insight Report found two-thirds (66%) of people in Scotland were satisfied with their standard of living, while almost half (47%) were happy with their current household finances.
Just over a quarter (27%) believed their household finances would improve within the next year, while two in five (41%) felt they would stay the same.
Almost two-thirds (65%) said they were worried about Brexit while almost seven in 10 (69%) were concerned about fuel prices and public spending cuts and the same proportion were concerned about energy.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “This research demonstrates the continued reliance on banking services in everyday life and the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships between banks, customers and communities.
“It highlights there is a continuing need for cash to be readily available to all, and people in our communities need to know that they have secure, free access to cash to allow them to go about their daily lives. This is also vital for local businesses that continue to rely on cash for transactions.
“We support calls to protect the ATM network, especially in rural communities and areas already affected by previous and proposed bank closures, where ATMs provide a life-line service to consumers and small businesses.
“There needs to be a long term, sustainable banking service for all communities and the Scottish Government will continue to work with banks to ensure that essential services remain accessible to all.”