Will banks close their branch offices during the coronavirus pandemic?
In this blog, I will update readers with a collection of announcements made by banks on how they may or may not choose to limit access to their bank branch offices during the coronavirus pandemic.
Branch Access during the pandemic: Current policies announced by US banks
- On March 13th, First National Bank (PA)announced that it would close the doors to all of its branches, beginning on March 16th, except for pre-arranged in-branch appointments. Otherwise, the bank will only offer services via drive-through windows or ATMs. https://www.fnbn.com/ceo-message-coronavirus/
- JPMorgan said that it intends to keep its branches open. https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/03/12/list-of-banks-offering-relief-to-customers-affected-by-coronavirus/#7f9462dd3ee3
- Capital One will temporarily close entry to 120 of its locations, include all of its café-themed branches. However, many Capital One branches will remain open. https://locations.capitalone.com/
- Beginning on Tuesday, March 17th, Associated Bank will cease to offer branch access at almost all of its locations. The midwestern bank says it will revisit the question in early April. https://biztimes.com/associated-bank-to-suspend-lobby-access-at-most-of-its-branches/
- PNC is encouraging customers to go online, use an app, or call to manage their banking needs. However, they are keeping branches open. https://www.pnc.com/en/customer-service/coronavirus-update.html?lnksrc=homepage-alert That is kind of interesting to me, as PNC has been closing scores of its branches permanently over the last few years.
- A customer who visited a Comerica branch in Boca Raton, Florida, has tested positive for COVOD-19. https://www.americanbanker.com/news/banks-cutting-back-on-branch-services-to-contain-spread-of-coronavirus
- Wintrust, a midwestern bank with most of its offices in greater Chicagoland, announced on March 17th that it would temporarily close 50 of its 185 branches for the time being. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/wintrust-financial-corporation-announces-precautionary-110010554.html
- Truist (the newly-established product of BB&T’s merger with SunTrust) will remain open, although it is joining other institutions by rolling out a policy to encourage customers to use remote options whenever possible. Interestingly, Truist is also giving 5 percent cash back on qualifying purchases (grocery stores, pharmacies) made with one of their consumer credit cards. https://www.truist.com/coronavirus-information
- All Bank of America, Citizens Bank (RI), and Citigroup branches remain open.
I think the pandemic may be an opportunity for some digital banks to capture market share. First, these institutions have been prepared for some time. They all have remote deposit of checks - for free. From inside their apps, customers can manage all aspects of their account.
Secondly, we are experience a bottoming out of interest rates. Yields on ten-year treasury notes have fluctuated from 0.3 percent to 0.9 percent during the last few weeks. Most banks have ceased to offer any interest on checking or savings account balances. The digital banks are still offering yields north of 1 percent on their savings account. Axos is paying 1.3 percent on savings (March 17th, 2020) and Varo Money is offering 1.92 percent.