Banks to close traditional branch offices: report

The traditional bank branch will disappear altogether. Banks will probably keep 20 to 30 offices, but these will have a very different character than the current branches.

Gerard Zandbergen, director of Locatus, presents this development. Locatus is a research firm that specializes in the goings-on in the retail sectors. At the request of the Financieele Dagblad, Locatus examined the decline in the number of bank branches in the Netherlands.

According to Zandbergen, banks will open so-called "flagship stores", similar to those from Apple and major fashion brands. These, often large, branches focus on brand perception. According to Zandbergen, the traditional bank branch will "disappear completely" in 10 years. Marketing experts foresee that banks will also experiment with new forms, such as "pop-up stores" - temporary locations in places where many customers come together, FD reports.

The traditional bank branch is rapidly disappearing. The number of branches has been halved in the past decade. In the period between 2004 and 2014, 1,501 branches of ABN Amro, ING, Rabobank and SNS Reaal have disappeared, according to the Locatus research. That is a decrease of 52 percent. In early November there were 1,371 bank branches in the Netherlands.

The large bank network costs banks money as they have to pay for a property and staff to man it. Meanwhile most Dutch people are switching over to cellphone banking and only rarely visit a bank branch. According to Statistics Netherlands, more than 80 percent of Dutch people do their banking on the internet.

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