Spain loses half of bank branches in 10 years

by Lorraine Williamson
bank branches

MADRID – In the past 10 years, Spain lost half the number of bank branches. Furthermore, 56% of Spanish municipalities have no physical bank at all. And, in addition to the mass redundancies, the elderly in particular are victims of the closures and the modern services of their bank.

In fact, 20,133 bank branches have closed in the past decade. Not only in Spain, but in many other countries, the credit crisis of 2008 weighed heavily on the existence of financial institutions such as banks. 

Number of bank branches and employees per Spaniard lowest ever 

Not only customers are the victims of the closure of these offices, but mass layoffs are also one of the consequences of this trend. Between December 2010 and 2020, 84,204 people were laid off because their offices closed. As a result, the ratio between the number of bank branches and employees per inhabitant is currently the lowest ever in the history of Spain. The country currently has only 43.5 bank branches per 100,000 and 3.8 bank employees per 1,000 inhabitants in Spain. 

Nearly 600 Spanish municipalities without a physical bank branch 

In the past 6 years, there have been almost 600 municipalities that previously had one bank branch and now no longer have any. The loss of bank branches is greatest among the larger players in Spain. Banco Santander, for example, has lost 45% of its branches in 6 years and BBVA and Banco Sabadell currently have a third less in branches. 

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Spanish banks serve their customers online… 

The many branch closures naturally have an effect on the services provided by banks to their customers. Closing many physical branches means that banks have mainly organised their services online. However, this digitization process is failing a large target group; the older Spaniards who do not all have – or are not handy with – the internet. 

… and exclude a large group of Spaniards 

This tendency has led to several initiatives by older people who are trying to reach the Spanish government with this problem. An initiative by Carlos San Juan from Valencia, for example, reached the ears of Minister Calviño of Economic Affairs. “Just because you don’t have internet doesn’t mean you’re completely useless,” San Juan said. The minister has since responded and promised that access to banks for the elderly should be made easier. 

Related post: Bank closures a problem for many who want to withdraw money

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