Despite new mobile, ATM, and internet channels, customers still need to come into bank halls quite a bit, as seen by the queues at the beginning and end of each month. A lot of this is because customers need to bring and remit payments that end up going to other banks either via direct deposit, cheques, or RTGS. Does the money need to physically move? No, but the customers do, going from building to building to do single transactions at many banks.
It helps if you have a building like Sarit centre which is an attractive banking destination because it has many bank branches under one roof, with much more in adjacent buildings.
New malls (the Hub, (remodeled) Westgate put bank branches upstairs and have one corner where they put all the ATM’s. Presumably, banks are nice tenants at malls as they pay for space over many years and the branches bring in a lot of foot traffic to other shops.
A Zeepo agent handles a dozen different payments.
But for banks, there is a lot of redundancy. Every bank that has a branch network incurs a repeat of the same costs of staff, security, cash handling & transit, advertising signs, stationery, surveillance & alarms, insurance, etc. They also have building leases, insurance, and fees per branch or outlet – such as Kshs 65,000 (~ $650) per year for an ATM license in Nairobi County.
Big banks have invested in big branch networks, but can smaller banks share halls in new neighborhoods or towns like Eastleigh and Kiserian that experienced rapid growth, and where the banks have to catch up? Shall we see a bank hall or post office hall in such a place with 20 desks and 20 sets of staff for 20 different banks? Can banks share a hall like a Huduma centre which houses several different government departments in one hall who each second some staff there to serve their customers in such a centre? Agents like Zeepo do it and there are shared branch halls in the US for cooperative societies.
It is certainly possible. They already share ATM’s (through Kenswitch), payments switches, card networks (Visa, MasterCard) – so why not building space? his way they can share the cost of security, which can be handled by armed guards outside, and leave a friendly customer-facing interface inside that is devoid of bullet-proof glass (like some Uganda bank halls)
- This piece (h/t @AgostaL) which highlights that bank products will always be around, also has some stats on bank branches in the US ..The United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, and a host of other countries are seeing the lowest number of bank branches in decades.
- While here in Kenya, CBK’s 2015 annual report notes that ..(while) the number of bank branches increased from 1,443 in 2014 to 1,523 in 2015 .. the slowdown in physical bank branches expansion is partly attributed to the adoption of alternative delivery channels such as mobile banking, internet banking, and agency banking.
- What does it take to open or close or share a branch? Section 8 of the banking act requires that No institution shall open in Kenya a branch or a new place of business or change the location of a branch or an existing place of business in Kenya without the approval of the Central Bank.