Branches and subsidiaries
The rationalisation taking place in the EU banking sector also involved bank branches as the number of credit institutions branches continued to shrink, falling to about 189,000 by the end of 2016. The total loss of more than 48,000 branches closed since 2008 equals a contraction of 20.4%. Compared to the previous year, branches in the EU-28 decreased by 4.6% or about 9,100 branches.
As the overview of payments and digital banking shows, banking customers have widely and enthusiastically adopted electronic payments as well as online and mobile banking. This has reduced the importance of widespread bank branch networks, allowing banks to scale back their physical presence.
Although the overall number of subsidiaries continued declining for the ninth consecutive year, falling by 2.9% to 601, the lowest level since the ECB’s data series began in 1999. While the number of subsidiaries of credit institutions from other EU countries fell by only five in 2016, the total of 343 was 38% below the peak in 2001. The 4.8% drop in the number of non-EU credit institutions’ subsidiaries was the sharpest year-on-year fall since 2004 and, at 258, reached the lowest level since 2006.