Norway's DNB is to axe 600 staff and shutter more than half of its remaining bank branches, saying that almost all of its customers now interact with the bank through digital channels.
Launching the move, the Norwegian bank says the pace of the digital banking revolution is much fast than envisaged just two years ago. The bank has already shed 200 branch staff through natural attrition in 2015 after seeing over-the-counter services decline by 82% in the last two years
Group executive vice president Trond Bentestuen, head of Personal Banking Norway in DNB, says: "Developments over the last two years have shown that customers have more contact with us than before, but in completely different ways. They would like their bank to be available all the time, and use their mobile phones for everything from paying bills to applying for a mortgage."
He reels off a list of statistics to support the massive branch closure programme, which will see the number of personal banking outlets reduced from 116 to just 57 over the next six months.
In 2015, DNB had as many as 156 million visits to its mobile bank and 91 million visits to its Internet bank, says Bentestuen, noting that four of five DNB customers who entered into savings schemes last year did so online. The bank has also flagged in the growing popularity of its mobile P2P payments app, Vipps, which is now used by more than one million Norwegians to transfer cash.
Similar changes are apparent in the way corporate customers use the bank, with nine out of ten new accounts now opened via digital channels. As a consequence, the number of corporate banking centres will also be cut, from 63 to 46 locations, to reflect this shift in behaviour.
"Customers make extensive use of our self-service channels, and therefore it is a logical consequence to adjust our physical distribution network," says Bentestuen. "For most of our customers, both personal and corporate, little will change. They can solve their everyday banking needs digitally. They can call us 24/7, every day, 365 days a year. They can also meet us via our chat and social media channels. Straightforward banking services can be carried out in in-store postal and banking outlets and in post offices at more than 2,400 locations across the country."
DNB is not alone in slashing its branch network. Deutsche bank has just announced plans to reduce its high street presence from 700 to 500 outlets, while investing $750 billion to roll out 72 new digital products this year.