European Bank Branches Close, Limit Hours


The coronavirus could have far-reaching effects on grocery stores, entertainment and banking, while boosting delivery services and identity verification services. Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus around the world.

The big grocery chains in the U.K. are moving to simplify their businesses by reducing services, such as counters and cafes, to let its staffers support basic supplies amid the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Reuters reported. Health officials have indicated that 36 people succumbed to the coronavirus in the U.K. with the total diagnosed at just under 1,550. The country’s grocery vertical, with the inclusion of Sainsbury’s and Tesco, among others, have grappled with maintaining stock for over a week as consumers panic-buy merchandise.

In other news, movie theaters across the country are preparing to close following new guidelines announced by President Donald Trump advocating against meetings of over 10 individuals due to the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported. Regal Cinemas plans to shutter all theaters starting on Tuesday (March 17). Universal Pictures plans to make current movies and those to come available for rental on demand. Most theaters in Europe have closed, as have those in India, China and other locations.

On another note, Congresswoman Maxine Waters called out the Federal Reserve’s move to bring more liquidity to the financial system to address the coronavirus in statement. Waters said, “Unfortunately, the Fed appears to be using its old playbook in trying to calm funding markets by flooding them with liquidity.” Waters called the situation “an unprecedented crisis which calls for extraordinary federal response.”

Meanwhile, Walmart Grocery, Instacart and Shipt have been reaching sky-high downloads for the last three days, according to a post from Apptopia. “Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt have seen surges of 218 percent, 160 percent, and 124 percent respectively,” the company said when comparing average daily downloads last month to those of Sunday (March 15). The company also noted that American consumers have used Target to get supplies of groceries, everyday essentials and entertainment.

And, as they deal with COVID-19’s spread and worker shortages, European banks are reducing their opening hours or closing branches for a time, Reuters reported. Intesa San Paolo, an Italian retail bank said per the report that approximately 900 of 3,500 large branches are opening just in the morning. Smaller locations, on the other hand, are running three mornings per week. And Commerzbank will shutter hundreds of its approximately 1,000 German locations.

In other news, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is asking financial institutions to be aware of fraudulent or malicious transactions “similar to those that occur in the wake of natural disasters” per a post on the government body’s website. Those emerging trends encompass investment scams, imposter scams, insider trading and product scams. The organization also “requests financial institutions affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to contact FinCEN and their functional regulator as soon as practicable if a COVID-19-affected financial institution has concern about any potential delays in its ability to file required Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) report.”

On another note, online identity verification startups are experiencing heightened demand during the past couple of weeks, according to reports. Passbase, a digital identity company, said per reports that it has witnessed an “unprecedented” rise in asks from firms in North America and Europe in the MedTech space recently. Germany’s TeleClinic, one of the firm’s clients, was involved is assisting in diagnosing workers at a car plant that registered the first coronavirus in the nation. Digital identity firm Onfido has also reportedly experienced a large increase in healthcare vertical demand. In addition, there has been a rise in demand for videoconference and telecommunication technologies such as Zoom.

And, a travel savings technology company, Service, plans to shutter on March 20, according to reports. Service, which helped users locate lower rates after they made their reservations or receive remuneration in the case of flight delays, had notched $5.1 million in funding since its conception. Michael Schneider, Service's founder and CEO, said per the report, “We were in the middle of a fundraise when it collapsed two weeks ago, and then we were in the middle of an acquisition that collapsed last Friday due to everything going on with COVID-19 and the economy.”



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.