In November 2012, ING Belgium announced it would be closing 40 of its 773 branches in the country. The closings are blamed on the economic downturn as well as an excessive number of branches at close proximity according to the bank. ING also mentions the change in customer behavior – the bank gained 400.000 online clients in the past few years.
In Spain, following a restructuring of the two national banks Banesto and Banif and their absorption by Santander 700 branches will be shut down. According to the BBC the number of bank branches closing down will be more than 15,000 by 2015. Santander was on the news earlier this year for its failed deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland, from whom it was supposed to buy 316 branches.
In France, despite a growing number of people signing up for bank accounts, local branches are closing down all over the country. According to la Banque de France (France’s central bank), there has been a steady decrease in the number of bank branches since 2006. Whereas five years ago there was one agency for every 1,585 peoople, now one agency has to be shared by 1,700. This is explained in part by the population’s satisfaction with online services. A recent study conducted by Efma found that 20% of the French population carries out their banking transactions online.
With the development of digital services and the mobile banking channel, local bank branches could slowly become a thing of the past in Europe.