Dutch multinational ING will close 62 offices in Belgium without any layoffs being involved, it announced on Tuesday.
The decision follows an upward trend in Belgians’ tendency to choose online banking. That behaviour was sped up due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to ING, with traffic to the bank’s mobile platform reportedly increasing by 23% in the first nine months of 2020 compared to the same period the year before.
Even in 2019, before the pandemic, ING banks saw 40% fewer people for tasks like activating or deactivating bank cards, De Tijd reports.
The affected offices were places where “a limited number of client interactions” were happening, ING said in a press release.
“The employees concerned will be offered a job within ING,” the bank added. Meanwhile, clients of the offices that are closing will be notified either by employees from nearby officers, or digitally, Knack reports.
ING already reduced the number of offices from 654 in 2018 to 616 the next year. By the end of 2021, only 490 banks will be left, effectively slashing one in four banks.
Numbers from banking federation Febelfin show that such a reduction is happening in other banks in Belgium as well, with the total number of banks in the country having dropped by some 40% in 2019 (4,692) compared to 2009 (7,977), according to Het Nieuwsblad.