Between 2015 and 2018, the number of bank branches in Belgium went from 7,079 to 5,751, a decrease of 18.7%, according to data collected by Le Soir and guide-epargne.bepublished Monday. This erosion reveals that bank branches are becoming an increasingly elitist service.
Since online banking started in 2003, attendance in physical bank branches, especially for small daily life transactions, began to fall, before it more or less stabilized over the past year. It has been determined recently that an agency in five has closed within the last three years.
The decline in the number of agencies is more sensitive in Flanders (-19.9%) than in Wallonia (-15.8%). It appears that the financial sector prefers to keep agencies in areas where the population is wealthy and connected.
When narrowing the figures down to the municipality, one realizes that the availability of agencies depends mainly on the financial well-being of one’s place of residence. While there exists an agency for 1,305 inhabitants in the well-off municipality of Antwerp Schilde, there is only one for 5,122 inhabitants in Dison.
The conclusions drawn reveal trends that do not benefit the entire population. The figures are a snapshot which does not take into account the new planned closures announced on 25 October, including in particular 62 by BNP Paribas Fortis for the year 2019.