BT has announced that Barclays is to be the first high-street bank in the UK to offer free Wi-Fi access for its customers in the UK.

The service is to be spread throughout 1,500 branches of the bank and naturally the two are encouraging users to take advantage of the hotspots to download Barclays’ banking apps, rather than browse Facebook while in the queue.

Earlier this year, BT conducted financial sector research which showed that customers were keen on accessing free in-branch Wi-Fi. This desire appeared on its most-wanted list in the UK, Germany, Spain and the USA.

It might seem odd to want to use the banking apps while you are in the bank, but Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays Retail and Business Banking says that the Wi-Fi access will help staff support their customers. He said:

We’ve been listening to our customers about how we can make banking easier for them, and they tell us they like the idea of mobile banking but would often value being shown how it works. We are always keen to show our customers how easy our mobile apps are to use, so we are now rolling out free Wi-fi across our Barclays branches, and our front line staff say this will help them give product demos using our customers own mobiles and tablets. We hope by providing this free service our customers will be able to instantly download and use all our mobile apps, and we are on hand to show them how.

Wi-Fi will be provided and managed by BT as a white label service and so it will be visible to the public in branches as ‘BarclaysFreeWifi’. In order to initially connect to the service, customers only have to click to accept the T&C’s.

Initial trials have already been run in three Barclays branches. BT has rolled out the service to more than half of the target locations. The rest of the branches will be hooked up through the end of February and into March.

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