The red house is provisionally nailed up with thin sheets of plywood. The ATM of the Sparkasse Riepe (Lower Saxony) was located in the small building until September 2021. Then slot machine crackers blew up the machine.
What remained was a heap of junk – and a great deal of frustration among bank customers!
Pensioner Hans-Jürgen Bruns (66) is also angry. Not just for the crime. But also because he doesn’t know how to get cash in the 2160-inhabitant community in East Friesland.
Bruns to BILD am SONNTAG: “The blasted apparatus was supposed to guarantee a kind of minimum supply. But it’s still out of service today, it’s not even being repaired!”
Bad luck: The bank in the neighboring town of Moordorf, a branch of the Oldenburgische Landesbank (OLB), also closed at the beginning of December. There is still a note on the front door: the branch is closed, customers are advised to go to Aurich or Leer. It’s another six kilometers to Aurich and almost 40 to Leer.
OLB customer Maike Hirsch (48, housewife) to BILD am SONNTAG: “The closure of the OLB here is very annoying. This is where I always withdraw my money.” And Bruns says: “They obviously don’t give a damn about us customers!”
The fate of the pensioner – by no means an isolated case in Germany! More and more banks are closing their branches – mainly in rural areas.
Experts are already talking about undersupply outside of the big cities. Means: It is five kilometers and more to the nearest ATM. For Arno Ulrichs, mayor of the East Frisian town of Ihlow, this is unacceptable: “Elderly, less mobile people in particular are massively affected. And online banking is usually not an option for these customers either.”
Andreas Pratz from the strategy consultancy of PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC): “For too long it has not been taken into account that an average of 30 percent of people do not use online banking. In the case of the savings banks and cooperative banks in rural areas, the proportion is likely to be even larger.”
Steady bank shrinkage
According to the Bundesbank, the number of domestic branches fell by 2,567 (-9.6 percent) to 24,100 in 2020.
And the downward trend continues: According to a study by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman, the number of bank branches in Germany will fall to 19,100 by 2025. Other experts are even warning that branch-based business models could die out completely within five years.