In a way I think you’ve just described what Nationwide is all about. It isn’t necessarily a focus to be super efficient or like a bank. Their reason for investing in branches is because they know that many customers prefer the human touch.
So it seems to me they are doing a bit of both here. Once you get your accounts open and can do it all in online banking (within the restrictions we’ve talked about that it offers) things become more efficient and automated. However, the account opening process for a new customer is very person focused and people intensive. Sure they could modernise, but that isn’t the only thing they are trying to do.
I guess you just have to decide if this is the kind or organisation you want to do your banking with. They also offer an “ethical” dimension compared to the investments of banks.
It seems to be working for them at the moment, even though the likes of us here might expect more technology. How long it will continue to work for them will depend on future expectations of customers.
One thing I do know, I get a better return on my money with my dealings with Nationwide than I would holding similar products with a single bank. Their stated aim is to give better value for members.