The digital transition and fintech are growing unstoppable also in Italy. According to the new Sustainable Finance Report of the Foundation for Subsidiarity, in ten years in our country almost 10,000 bank branches have disappeared: from 34,036 at the beginning of 2010 to 24,312 at the beginning of 2020, about 30% less. Despite the decline, we still remain fourth in Europe with 39 branches for every hundred thousand inhabitants, compared to 56 at the beginning of the decade, with a European average of 22. Digital, competition and the challenge of sustainability are revolutionizing banks and customer relations, observes Giorgio Vittadini, president of the Foundation.
In Europe, the bank branches index for every 100,000 inhabitants stands out for its efficiency Finland (5), Netherlands (9), Germany (11) and Austria (12). At the bottom are Portugal (38), Italy (39), Spain (50) and Bulgaria (60). A case like Luxembourg, (65) linked to the historic financial vocation of the Grand Duchy. The tricolor branches are about 15% of the total of the Old Continent.
In the last five years, the continental banking networks have undergone a cut of about a third, while in Italy it has been a fifth. Observing the territorial situation in the Peninsula, the South follows the European average more than the North. There are 20 agencies for every 100,000 inhabitants Calabria, 22 in Campania and 25 in Sicily. High values, however, in Trentino Alto Adige (70), Valle d’Aosta (63) and Emilia Romagna (56).
The ranking by provinces sees Reggio Calabria, Vibo Valentia and Caserta at the top, with 17 branches for every hundred thousand inhabitants. At the bottom are Trento (76), Cuneo (72) and Sondrio (71). Among the major capitals, Milan (41) and Rome (35) are close to the national average. Naples (20) stands out for its efficiency. Bologna (58) back.
Towards greater efficiency
In Italy, banks have historically favored the more developed areas, with a greater presence of high-income businesses and customers. In the next few years the networks will be optimized, getting closer to European standards, predicts Luca Erzegovesi, professor of economics of financial intermediaries at the University of Trento, one of the editors of the report.
Three quarters of the branches (18,393) belong to banks established as joint stock company. Follow the cooperative credit banks with about 17% (4,236) and the popular banks with 6% (1,548). Finally, there are 135 branches of foreign banks.
Another phenomenon examined by the Foundation for Subsidiarity is the spread of home banking. In ten years, from 2010 to 2020, in Italy the customers who use the Internet to operate on their account have doubled, going from 18% to 35%. The peninsula is still very far from the continental average of 58%.
Home banking is widespread in major economies such as Spain (62%), Germany (65%), France (66%) and Great Britain (77%).
Meanwhile, the concentration process in the banking sector continues. At the end of 2019, the top five credit institutions in Italy represented 47% of total assets. A similar scenario is found in France (49%), while lower in Germany (31%). The Spanish market is more concentrated (67%).
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