There is now one banking branch for every 2,300 people in the EU, 8 percent down from four years ago, according to European Central Bank statistical data, processed by Reuters. And though 8 percent might seem not such a big figure, it means some of residents, namely those in the peripheral regions, no longer have easy access to banking services.
The Spanish financial industry is one of the EU leaders in economizing by cutting bank outlets. Almost a fifth of branches there disappeared since 2008. A Spanish lender Bankia as a result had to introduce a mobile service – a bus carrying banking equipment to remote areas.
“In Spain, the economic problems have been a catalyst. Perhaps without that things could have carried on the way they were for a little longer,” says a Madrid-based Barclays banker.
The biggest reductions in banking sphere in 2012 were seen in crisis-hit Greece with 5.7 percent or 219 of its branches closed.