Here’s how one big bank is bucking branch closing trend as mobile banking surges

4 May, 2015 (10:24) | Blog | By: admin

By Evan Weese – Staff reporter – Columbus Business First

As traditional bank branches fall victim to increasingly popular smartphone apps, Columbus’ largest bank is growing its brick-and-mortar footprint.

Though Huntington National Bank executives are putting more emphasis on online and mobile technology, the company managed to also grow its six-state network of branches during the first quarter, to 733 from 715 at year-end 2014, according to its recent quarterly earnings report.

Meanwhile, the country’s banks and thrifts collectively eliminated 332 branches during the first three months of 2015, reports SNL Financial, as mobile banking became more widespread.

Huntington (NASDAQ:HBAN) has been particularly fond of more cost-effective branches inside Meijer and Giant Eagle grocery stores.

“We like the business a lot, we find it very, very significant,” CEO Steve Steinour told me. “They’re about twice as productive.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Central Ohio’s second-largest bank by deposits and branches, was among the country’s most-active branch closers in the first quarter, eliminating 31 across its footprint and finishing with 5,616 branches, according to SNL.

That’s no surprise, as Chase (NYSE:JPM) executives recently outlined plans to trim 300 branches by the end of 2016 after use of its mobile app grew 20 percent in 2014 to 19 million users.

Only PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE:PNC), Central Ohio’s third-largest bank, eliminated more, dropping 38 to go to 2,793, SNL reports.

None of Central Ohio’s three-largest banks closed any offices in the region, according to monthly reports from the Ohio Division of Financial Institutions.

Evan Weese covers funding and capital for Columbus Business First.

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