Banking staff having to work from home during COVID-19 has disrupted the sector like most industries, but thanks to technology and a steep pandemic-driven rise in cashless transactions, the industry has been able to operate and serve its customers.
However, despite this industry watchers question if the industry’s big-city offices and high street branches can remain ghost-like for much longer, in the face of low-cost easy access to frequent rapid mass testing along with full government support in this strategy.
As already seen in other industries such as manufacturing, food, and aviation; using rapid mass testing has stopped transmission in workplaces, saving millions in lost revenue and thousands of work hours. Bentley reported that they had 100% success at preventing transmission with no asymptomatic workers coming into the workplace and infecting others, because of their frequent rapid testing programme.
The UK Government has just launched a scheme offering free mass lateral flow rapid antigen test kits (LFTs) to large organisations such as the Royal Mail, John Lewis, Jaguar, London Heathrow Airport, Tate & Lyle and the DVLA – the big banks will need to follow suit.
Goldman Sachs, the huge US-based multinational investment bank, was early into testing, with its UK arm reported last October to be offering free mass testing to any of its 6,000-strong London workforce who chose to return to the office.
The same month, Barclays claimed it had proved IT could make a success of ‘home-working’ yet revealed how 30,000 of the UK-based banking giant’s 85,000 staff globally still needed to go to the office.
Whether this or the reported 10% of attendees at the London offices of others such as HSBC and UBS is being facilitated by mass testing, has not been revealed.
As vaccination steps up, the next prize is to get economies moving, using LFTs and the mantra ‘test to suppress’, and as an early warning system to protect against new strains and future outbreaks.
The World Nano Foundation (WNF) Co-founder Paul Sheedy said: “Our research shows how healthcare diagnostics technology will shift dramatically to a more decentralised community early intervention model, against potential epidemics and pandemics.
“Our own modelling shows that an intensive front line ‘test to suppress’ campaign using rapid test kits available to the individual will allow early detection and immediate isolation, reducing the need for lockdowns. Our simulation maps how consecutive daily tests for three days can rapidly identify and isolate infectious people. Weekly testing can then sustain a low infection rate even in a large population.
“Used alongside vaccines and other preventative methods, these simple tests have been developed from colloidal gold nanoparticle research and are a vital component in defeating the virus and it’s future variants.
“Rapid community testing is simpler, faster, cheaper, more effective and mobilises everyone to help themselves, their relatives, friends, and colleagues, to keep everyone safe.”