Through the first half of 2022, U.S. credit unions opened 12 net new branches, adding to the net 46 branches opened in 2021. Meanwhile, U.S. banks closed 2,927 branches in 2021, a trend of divestment that has continued through 2022.
What explains this stark difference between the approaches that credit unions and banks take to their branch strategy?
And just as importantly, what is the future of the branch for credit unions and their members?
Why are banks closing branches?
It’s easy to understand why banks are downsizing their branch networks. As publicly traded, for-profit corporations, banks are motivated by the bottom line, and are under constant pressure to reward their shareholders. Branches are expensive to operate, and with foot traffic declining as the popularity of digital and mobile banking grows, there is no longer incentive to offer in-person services for routine transactions like check deposits, cash withdrawals and transfers that can be performed just as easily and less expensively online or at an ATM.
continue reading »