EU banks closed nearly 6,000 branches in 2017

The uptake of mobile and online banking led to widespread decline in the number of bank branches across the EU in 2017, according to new figures from the European Banking Federation (EBF).

The EBF’S annual update on the banking sector in Europe shows another consecutive year of contraction in banks’ physical presence across the bloc last year, with reductions both in staff numbers and branches as the industry took steps to boost efficiency and profitability.

The number of bank branches in the EU last year declined to approximately 183,000 – down 5,900 or 3.1 per cent on the 2016 figure.

Since 2007, the total number of bank branches open in the EU has plummeted by 21 per cent, equivalent to nearly 50,000 branches, reflecting the rapid growth of online and mobile banking services.

The overview explained that as customers have migrated to online banking, the institutional importance of having a widespread branch network has diminished for EU banks.

“Clients increasingly interact with banks through digital channels instead of branches,” stated the report.

And the number of branch closures corresponds with a steep jump in the number of people in EU who use internet banking, which has now reached 51 per cent, up from 29 per cent in 2008.

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