China is seeing an ongoing decline in the number of its bricks-and-mortar bank branches as well as automatic teller machines (ATM’s), as fintech and digital transformation lead to sweeping changes across the finance sector.
As of 22 December Chinese commercial banks had closed a total of 2398 physical bank premises since the start of 2021, according to financial licensing data from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC).
2021 marks the fourth consecutive year since 2018 that the Chinese banking sector has seen declines in the number of physical premises in operation, according to figures from the China Banking Association (CBA).
In the first half of 2021 alone four of China’s big state-owned banks reduced staff numbers by more than 20,000, while Agricultural Bank of China shut 94 branches, Bank of China 31 branches, and China Construction Bank 85 branches.
With the mass take-up of mobile and online banking, China is also seeing a decline in the number of ATM’s in operation.
As of the end of September there were 959,700 ATM’s in operation in China, for a decline of 69,400 compared to the same period the year previously.