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Two people withdraw money at a bank branch. EFE
Malaga puts a brake on the rapid closure of bank branches
Finance

Malaga puts a brake on the rapid closure of bank branches

The province is the only one in Andalucía to put a limit on closures, while offices continue to shut at a high rate throughout the rest of the region

Cristina Vallejo

Malaga

Tuesday, 29 August 2023, 17:45

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Malaga is slowing down the rapid closure of bank branches throughout the province after a 60% fall since 2008.

There are 563 branches available in the province, but there were once many more before, and they have been rapidly shutting since the financial crisis in 2008. But the province is putting the closures on hold. Last year, just over 30 bank branches were closed in Malaga, compared with the figures for 2021, when almost 100 branches were closed.

There were more than 1,400 branches in the province in September in 2008, but that number has dropped 60% to 563. It's lower than the average throughout Spain where the fall has been close to 62%, with the number of financial offices falling from 46,118 in September 2008 to 17,652 in March 2023.

Bank branches have also been rapidly shutting throughout Andalucía. Fifteen years ago, coinciding with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the number of branches has fallen by 56%, slightly less than in Malaga.

Has the adjustment in the number of bank branches come to an end?

Experts differ in their opinions. Joaquín Maudos, professor at the University of Valencia and Cunef and researcher at the IVIE, said that although it is logical that the reduction of the financial sector should slow down, in his opinion, the process has neither ceased nor concluded. "Spain continues to have one of the densest networks of branches (and ATM cash machines) in the whole of the European Union, with one of the highest number of access points in relation to the population. For this reason, I believe that there is room for manoeuvre for further closures," he said.

"The closure of branches has been compensated with other solutions in such a way that financial accessibility has improved," Maudos added. In Malaga, an agreement was reached with public-private participation to install ATMs in municipalities that had been left without branches.

Santiago Carbó, professor of economic analysis at the University of Valencia and director of financial studies at Funcas, said that the financial sector completed its restructuring process some time ago, before the pandemic. In his opinion, if branches are being opened or closed now, this is due to reasons unrelated to the financial crisis that started 15 years ago.

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