So the bank customer is suffering from the policy of the ECB

The negative interest rates make it difficult to banks to make money. Victims are customers who have to pay for their accounts fees. And also the way to the next branch will be longer. These two women could hardly be different, and yet not a leaf fits between them: The two main banking supervisors Europe, Sabine Lautenschläger and Danièle Nouy. The Frenchwoman Nouy is small and delicate, with a stern look. Lautenschlager, however, has a soft face and smiles warmly. The need two only have to see and understand immediately. The local financial institutions they are fair, but also audible: Although the banks are struggling with the negative interest rates of the European Central Bank (ECB) and it is increasingly difficult for them to make money, these two women have little sympathy for them: The financial institutions would have to adapt and finally by their high costs down, they made last Wednesday unmistakably clear.

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This message have heard not only Geldhäuser painful. Also for the customer are the worst possible news. After all, they are the ones who have to pay for in the form of higher fees and fewer outlets for it. And, although they already suffer through the crumbling pension under the negative interest. “Due to the difficult earnings situation German institutions will increasingly proceed to charge for previously free services. In addition, be conceivable that financial institutions charge higher interest rates on loans,” says Uwe Fröhlich, President of the Federal Association of German cooperative banks (BVR). “The customer in particular as pension savers is the big victims of the bank’s policy.” And that affects not only the cooperative institutions.

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So one thinks at Postbank on the other pricing of services related to the checking account. About a year ago, the Bonn Institute had already introduced a fee of 99 cents for paper transfers. With institutional customers such as asset managers and insurance you lead also “individual talks”, as the market interest rates could be passed, said CEO Frank Strauss. In recent months, many financial institutions raised prices around the current account. So also cost here at many institutes paper transfers now more than online transfers. At the fees screw of credit cards has also turned in many places. In the long term is also to be feared that the interest rates on loans will rise.

The same could be observed in Switzerland, where there is also a long period of low interest rates and the institutions as tried to strengthen their eroding yields. “By the negative interest rates put the profitability of the banks under pressure, they burden the bank lending and hence domestic demand,” warns David Folkerts-Landau, chief economist at Deutsche Bank. Add to that the increased cost pressure is forcing banks to review their branch networks. Quietly disappear more and more correspondents. Even with the savings banks, hitherto particularly dotted with its proximity to the customer, already 450 branches were last year closed end of December there were nationwide still 14,450 – including those addresses where customers find no employees, but only self-service terminals. “There will be an adjustment, and this adjustment will continue,” the president of the German Savings Banks Association, Georg Fahrenschon said.

The credit unions also an increasing number of branches. Last year, there were 500 bank offices. “I expect that this trend will continue, at least for the next two years,” said Fröhlich. Especially smaller branches would disappear. The commercial banks take painful cuts before: HypoVereinsbank (HVB) has almost halved its branch network, the German Bank also plans to close up to 220 stores in Germany. “I hope that we to May with the employee some,” said Christian Sewing, the Management Board responsible for retail and corporate customers, a few weeks ago in an interview.

“If we succeed, we want the third quarter of 2016 to begin to close stores.” At present, the Frankfurt Institute has 723 stores in Germany and wants to reduce the number by the end of next year to around 500th Thus, the store dying is expanding more and more. Even in recent years, the density of bank branches has decreased significantly. For the end of 2004, the German Bundesbank had nationwide still around 45,000 contact points from ten years later there were only 35,000.

Today would bank customers in East Germany four kilometers ride in the section to the next branch than the west of the country? In the east, thus sharing an average of 3700 customers a branch, in the west 2500. According to the promotional bank KfW, the number of stores in the next 20 years, could be almost halved.

However, the trend for store closures is not only a result of the difficult interest rate environment, but also a result of increasing digitization and changing customer needs. These do now online many banking transactions. However, surveys show that many people a branch is still very important and they by no means cold can the disappearance of the contact points, which is why the Institute hesitated a long time with this step. Only the low interest rates made this probably inevitable.