Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) branches have now closed by an additional 37 across the U.S. as online banking competition sweeps new customers.
Daily Mail reports that Wells Fargo has filed to close an additional 37 branches across the US, further accelerating America’s transition to automated banking.
“Six bricks and mortar locations in California are set to be affected – along with four in Florida and Georgia respectively, three in Pennsylvania and others in a dozen more states, according to a bulletin published by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) this month.
All bank branch closures in the US must be cleared by the OCC, which oversees its records and evaluates the effect of those openings and closings on the communities affected.”
It was earlier reported that Wells Fargo was expected to close 23 branches this year, per Journal Now, however these number have only continued to grow.
This trend is not new — in late July, WFMZ News reported that Wells Fargo had made the decision to close its Flourtown, Montgomery County, branch as more and more customers have begun to switch to digital banking.
“Until then, customers can use each branch and bank with us as they always have.”
“This is not an easy decision or one we take lightly,” the bank said.
“Branches continue to play an important role in the way we serve our customers, and we continuously evaluate our branch network in light of changing customer needs, the increase in the use of digital banking and market factors.”
A spokesperson for the bank told DailyMail.com that although branches in many regions are closing, a smaller number are opening in a handful of successful markets.
‘While the total number of branches continues to decline, new branches are being opened in high growth neighborhoods of existing markets, allowing us to offer more branch convenience,’ they wrote.
‘We may also open new branches where we combine two older existing branches into one better situated location. Additionally, customers use our wide range of digital capabilities for many of their banking needs and, as a result, more transactions are happening outside the branch,’ they added.
More and More Banks Are Closing Physical Branches
Banks of America, Wells Fargo, PNC, and JPMorgan have all begun to close more physical branches.
In Philadelphia, Wells Fargo has closed 17% of its local bank branches since 2020.
PNC is not far behind, shuttering 15% of its branches in the Philadelphia area, per the Philadelphia Business Journal.
Bank of America has also followed suit, closing 5% of its physical locations in the region, as well.
“These locations have relatively low transaction volumes and are generally within a short drive from another First Republic office,” a spokesperson said.
About 100 employees who are affected by the branch closures will be offered six-month transition assignments, though it is not guaranteed everyone will receive a permanent and long-term job.
Big banks are closing branches in New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, Washington, D.C., Illinois, and Michigan, as well as out west in Nevada, California, and Arizona, per The Street.
And according to the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Bureau (FDIC), large commercial U.S. banking locations have fallen from 8,000 in 2000 to 4,236 by 2021 and 4,194 by 2022.
“US banks closed 149 branches and opened 49 in March, resulting in a total of 78,588 active branches,” S&P Global Market Intelligence data reported on April 28, 2023.
If the trend of current bank branch closings continues there may be no bank branches left in 10 years.
Self Financial estimates the number of U.S. bank branches will fall from about 60,000 in 2023 to approximately 15,660 in 2030 – and continue falling until there are no bank branches left by 2034.
Why Are Bank Branches Closing?
Bank executives say consumer attitudes have changed with the times.
At Wells Fargo, the banking giant is reporting a plunge in face-to-face teller transactions.
“Our branch network will continue to be the key to the business, but our customers expect us to provide them with increasingly digitized and seamless banking experiences across all channels,” President and CEO Charles Scharf noted on a recent quarterly earnings call.
“The banking industry is withdrawing from the most vulnerable communities in the country at an astounding clip despite the resumption of normal economic activity in mid-2021,” said Jason Richardson, director of research at the National Community Restoration Coalition.
“After using the initial lockdown phase of the pandemic to double the rate of branch closures, banks maintained that alarming pace in the past year.”
The fact is that more consumers are using competitive online banking platforms such as Ally Bank and Sofi, which provide high yield savings programs.
As more and more people begin to move their money away from traditional banks, the more these big bank branches continue to close.
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