EU branching out: 20,000 bank outlets closed in EU since start of downturn

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.

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